CM: According to Silvanus this picture is not a still-life. The difference lies in that everything that composes the picture is an allegory and a testimony of the soul.
When he took this picture, the photographer was a novice under the name Silvanus. Serving the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Sinai, he lived in a simple cell in which the oil-lamp was the only source of natural light. In his attempt to uncover the spiritual source of light, he took - what may be - his most autobiographical photograph. This picture comprises all the reality of the photographer as novice Silvanus. On a wooden table lie a multitude of objects that - through monastic life - have acquired a sacred dimension; a Fayum portrait, two oil-lamps, and a plate. The plate contains a whole world: the pomegranate, an envelope, a matchbox, and a spare bulb. Next to them hang from a nail a bottle of wine. The weight of the composition falls on the female portrait that looks directly to the heart. When the artist described this photograph he referred to the portrait: "In the dim light of the cell a woman steals in. Is it a funerary portrait from the Fayum, or the image of our soul that takes our breath?" The source of light is dual, with two lit oil-lamps. The one lamp that stands on its own lights weakly. The other that is concealed behind the portrait burns everything. Not even the custom-made dimmer can lessen its brightness. This is the metaphysical light that endows with soul objects that would have - otherwise - composed a 'still-life'. The contrast between natural and meta-physical light creates an incredible chiaroscuro, which is the strength of Silvanus' photography.
Commenting on his art, Silvanus said: "In the process of photographing, I collect images of the visible world so that I keep those that I recognize finally in my inner world. It gives me joy to endow with form my ghosts, desires, fears and hopes, and to communicate them with others." If he stands apart from other creative photographers, it is due to his mannerism; of photographing outwards from within.