ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings

ADAM AT ALFRISTON by André Durand (2003) (Adam, Eve, Alfriston, Ethiopian, Sussex)



Dimensions: 112x89

Oil on linen


8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Genesis 3: 8-11
(King James Version)

Photo:Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher


First nothing, then something, molded from dust and clay,
Skin black as ebony, chalk as the appliqué;
Dampen the finger and swirl in the underlay,
Circles of inkiness, spirals of Milky Way.
Alone in a garden, heavenly émigré,
Naked and unashamed, each day a holiday;
Innocent now, but he’ll learn how to disobey,
Adam’s his name, although Sinner’s his sobriquet.
Doesn’t bode well to be made on a Saturday.

Elizabeth Kay 2010

This is an Ethiopian verse form, called a Mawaddes. According to Robin Skelton’s book, Shapes of our Singing, it is a nine line poem, usually composed in hexameters, with a strong caesura halfway. There is only one rhyming sound in the poem, and it concludes all the lines.


By Nicolas Aubyn
Durand’s interpretation of the Adamic theme is both hermetic and haunting. The monochrome figure has all the feel of a photographic negative with the tribal, almost primordial clay of Genesis reminding us that he is the embodiment of both the alpha and omega in a developmental cycle of being. The ultimate goal of man is one of constant refinement towards perfection that by its own reason must ultimately result in evolution into pure spirit. The stark reality of this image, this ‘androgyne of creation’, carries an amaranthine, timeless quality. A recollection or race-memory as deeply imprinted on the recesses of our psyche as Durand’s Adam is upon the sun-drenched splendour and viridian foliage of the cottage garden setting with its clipped box hedges: not in an African Eden but the Old Clergy House in Alfriston, Sussex where, incidentally, there grows a centuries-old Judas Tree.
Iconographically Durand offers, perhaps, an alternative crucifixion, for in addition to the glaring contrast of the palette vis à vis figure and landscape, the setting, though humble, evokes the geometry of the arabesque garden. It places this Adam upon a Gnostic cross. In reality Durand’s Adam occludes the pedestal and nomen of the old sundial centred on the converging pathways. He is the first-created man, as imperishable as the sun’s arc and equally as old.
Is Durand’s Adam God’s handiwork before the fall? I think so, for the price of temptation was almost certainly the creation of a spiritual schism; the separation of the divine male and female components inherent in the soul of perfected man; the Sol-o-mon. Such division of spirit, so often referred to in ancient classical texts as the Lawful Error, the Divine Flaw and even The Abyss itself reminds us of our state of imperfection; our constant search for the missing self in order that we might make whole that which has been divided.
Perhaps then it is each one of us that calls out in our respective darknesses: ‘Adam. Where art thou’?