Talk for long with Thomas Bennett about his art, and you’ll hear him repeatedly, unself-consciously, refer to what he does as “pushing images around.” Look for some time at his work, however, and the movement of the medium becomes palpable … Concerning the tendency to darkness, Bennett said “It’s hard to say that there’s anything conscious going on there. I suppose I have a kind of cynical, dark sense of humor. (1)
I suspect Judith has a cynical, dark sense of humor, too. I know I do.
Bennett borrows Caravaggio’s composition but reverses it and transforms it. Where Caravaggio shows Judith’s intensity, Bennett translates the same arrangement into movement. Rather than standing statically to the side and holding her victim at arm’s length, Bennett’s Judith appears to be pulling back to gather the impetus to push her blade forward into Holofernes. Her expression is less troubled and more determined.
Holofernes is expendable. Of little significance when compared to the overall purpose, and therefore able to be abandoned. Yup, in this demonstration of movement, it is clear he is going to be left behind – at least everything but his head.
(1) Janice Steinhagen, “Interview with Thomas Bennett,” Willimantic Chronicle, December 21, 2000.
(2) Flickr, Tom Bennett’s Photostream, Set: Monotypes (viewed February 16, 2012)