Coburn’s Transfiguration is a large semi-religious oil painting with a richly decorative background of gold leaf. It combines two of Coburn’s constant themes — a celebration of the beauty and regeneration of nature with a celebration of the growth of the spirit.
In Transfiguration the combination of religious formality with Coburn’s dancing nature shapes gives a brooding strength to the life force in the painting, Geometry is made infinitely flexible in the order of Coburn’s world.
A holy chalice grows from the earth along with the trees, while above it, like some giant plant in a luminous sky, hangs the sacred circle alive with growth. Because of the surrounding organic shapes and the luminosity of the sky, the planet/sacred circle is given movement and seems to orbit slowly through time. In the centre of the circle resides the spirit of Christ. In Greek the PX is the symbol for Christ.
Transfiguration is a strong example and manifestation of Coburn’s extraordinary judgement and placement. Among many other factors, it is, of course, this almost instinctive strength that lends such authority to his particular kind of abstract expressionism.