Balaam's Donkey,” 2015, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 100 cm.

[When] the donkey saw God’s angel, it crouched down under Balaam. Balaam’s anger flared, and he beat the donkey with a stick. God opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?”

(Numbers 22:27-28)

Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse the Children of Israel. On the way, Balaam is thrown off course by his donkey, who sees an angel blocking their way.

In the painting, the donkey seems to be falling over as it crouches down under Balaam. The haughty soothsayer is dressed in purple, the color of royalty. But as his anger and exasperation flare and he strikes the donkey, he topples down to the level of his animal.

The mouth of the donkey is blood red, twisted out of shape. The gold dots and swirls of the reins and bridle seem to move freely between the figures, bringing up the question of who is bridled. Baalam is the rider here, but he is subjugated and bridled by blessings that will emerge beyond his control.