The act of waiting is an all-too-familiar deed. We wait for people, we wait for things. We yearn for salvation, we seek a reprieve. We have waited far too many times to know its topography full well. Who, where, how, and until when to wait – we are masters of this craft, a command necessary to navigate territories of uncertainty that never seem to cease.
Yet in these times of seemingly impending doom, waiting has taken on brand new meanings and forms. Certainly, it is met with worries of the unsure; but it used to come with the certainty that something is to arrive – no matter how indefinite, however unknown. But amid a global crisis that has slowed the world to a never-ending standstill, oscillating about degrees of oblivion to erase jobs, lives, and dreams, the same does not seem to hold true anymore. It is as if we have neared, or perhaps reached the midst of, a dead-end: an end to the world, death to lives and hopes.
The apocalyptic is nothing new to Anton del Castillo. With an oeuvre rich with images of avarice, wickedness, and brutality that culminate at downright slaughter and destruction, the apocalyptic is a theme that he has masterfully pursued and made his own. He reinforces this through the recurring imagery of gas masks that compound the suffocating with the deceitful and the concealed. Many of his works make emblematic use of gold leaf, referencing its metallic luster to interrogate the conflations of spirituality and superficiality. With Parousia, he remains steadfast in these pursuits. But newfound entanglements have made these into something more.
It is through the conflicting notions of the apocalyptic and the anticipatory that del Castillo charts the trajectory of Parousia. A Greek word that translates to “presence” or “arrival,” parousia in Catholic belief specifically signals the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, heralded by apocalyptic visions that come to a climax in redemption and separation of the saved from the damned. Albeit a harbinger of destruction, parousia is also a promise of salvation. This contradictory twofold nature complicates the apparently simplistic response to its imminence. On the one hand, the wait for it is met with dread. But on the other, it is also expected, anticipated with faith. – Cheska Santiago