Damascus Road

1988
Oil on linen
120 x 168

On Damascus Road, Saul of Tarsus experienced a conversion to Christianity on his way to becoming the Apostle Paul. Bartlett sets what appears to be a tragic story on his version of that road. In the center of the composition, a helmeted soldier with his back to the viewer holds a gun. On the right, a mother drags her son off the road towards two men holding a lifeless child. An enigmatic figure, his head surrounded by a broken halo and his chest bound in the manner of Michelangelo’s Christ and slave figures, seems on the point of collapse. On the right, an emergency worker warns the view to stay back.

“Damascus Road still has resonance for me today. This is the hot bed, the boiling pot, right now. The powder keg of what is going on, and it’s still happening right in the same place. The point where divine intervention meets the the real world. You get the conversion of Paul on Damascus Road, and, you see the telephone pole – the lines of communication are breaking down.”