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Paintings depict muscular Jesus

Aug. 29, 2011 at 2:33 PM

VERSAILLES, Ky., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A Kentucky artist is taking a page from Rembrandt's book by giving a makeover to the image of Jesus Christ, this time by adding muscles and tattoos.

Stephen Sawyer, 58, said his Jesus paintings, which he created using a muscular surfer as a model, are aimed at giving masculine Christians a version of the savior to which they can relate, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Monday. In Sawyer's renditions, Jesus appears as a boxer and biker.

"I scarcely think Jesus could have overturned the tables of the money-lenders and driven them from the temple if he was a wimp," Sawyer said.

Sawyer's Christ makeover is evocative of the new look Rembrandt gave Jesus with his paintings between 1648-56, which are currently on display as part of the "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus" exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The New York Times reported.

Rembrandt changed the common perception of Jesus at the time by emphasizing his ethnicity and humanity. He is believed to have used a young Sephardic Jew from his neighborhood as a model.

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