Robert Shillady: Icons of the Spiritually Certain

About the References Below is a list of artworks by other artists, both historical and contemporary, that Shillady referenced in Icons of the Spiritually Certain. Enjoy finding each reference!

About the Trilogy “Robert Shillady’s masterful trilogy includes three narrative paintings—a series he has spent the past eight years creating. Shillady recently completed the third painting in the series—an impressive 53 x 93 triptych, Triumph of Irrational Dogma (2022), which joins Icons of the Spiritually Certain (2015) and The End of Dada? (2012). The paintings in the trilogy reference the artworks of other artists, both historical or contemporary. This is the first time Triumph of Irrational Dogma has been exhibited, and the first time all three paintings in the trilogy have been on view together. A must see exhibition!

Click here to see the reference for Triumph of the Irrational Dogma and The End of Dada?

References for Icons of the Spiritually CertainIcons of the Spiritually Certain (2015) addresses the cacophony of a world with a history of different faiths. All of them preach peace and harmony among their followers and yet their adherents sometimes interact like Neo Rauch’s stick fighters, who have been altered in my version to represent L. Ron Hubbard, inventor of Scientology, and Christopher Hitchens, writer and atheist philosopher. The painting also includes Katahdin, “the greatest of mountains,” sacred to the Penobscots, as well as a landscape I did of Black Brook in Brooklin.  —Robert Shillady

1. Colossal head of the Olmec God-King, southern Mexico.

2. The Buddha.

3. C-47 or DC-3, referring to the Cargo Cult in New Guinea, World War II and after.

4. St. Sebastian, Andrea Mantegna, c. 1455.

5. Menorah, the Jewish candelabrum representing 7 Days, 7 Tribes, 7 Wisdoms, and 7 Ark Laws.

6. Madonna with Child on a Throne, Hans Memling, c.1480.

7. Man Walking on Water, Keith Haring, 1980’s

8. The crow, a Native American clan symbol and a traditional character for Vikings as well.

8. Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, c. 1488.

9. The Ascent of the Prophet Muhammad to Heaven, attributed to Sultan-Muhammad, Persian, 1539–1943.

10. One of hell’s denizens from The Large Passion, Albrecht  Durer, 1511.

11. Venus of Willendorf, Neolithic fertility goddess, c. 15,000–10,000 B.C.

12. Krishna and Radha in a Bower, from a Gita Govinda series, c. 1775-80.

13. Katahdin, “the greatest of mountains,” sacred to the Penobscots. Some retellings of traditional tales say it’s the summer home of Pamola, variously described as a thunder god and an angry spirit to whom one must sacrifice to avoid a curse or injury.

14. Ganesha, Hindu God of wisdom, knowledge, and new beginnings.

15. Osiris and Isis, Egyptian deities, brother and sister, husband and wife. Horus, their immaculately conceived son, completes the trinity.

16. Star and Crescent, commonly recognized today as the symbol of the Islamic faith. It dates from 2100 BCE as a symbol of the Sumerian civilization’s sun and moon gods.

17. Piss Christ, photograph by Andres Serrano, 1987.

18. The Snake Charmer, Henri Rousseau, 1907

19. Brook Trout, Neil Welliver, 1973. The fish as a symbol of Christianity is my intent, not Neil Welliver’s.

20. Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair, John Sloan, 1912. My version combines an image of Mormon temple garments and Amaterasu, Shinto sun goddess, after Kunisada Toyokuni II.

21. Tal, Neo Rauch, 1999. Battling it out in my version are L. Ron Hubbard (left), inventor of Scientology, and Christopher Hitchens, writer and atheist philosopher.

22. Neptune Calming the Tempest, Peter Paul Rubens, 1635.

23. Young Bacchus, Giovanni Bellini, c. 1505/1510. Bacchus is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Dionysus, the god of wine but also of the irrational and chaos, which is the whole point of this painting.