I applied my mind, 1982

Record number

I applied my mind

synthetic polymer paint
unstretched canvas
1950 x 1805 mm

C. McC. APRIL - MAY 1982 (brushpoint, vertical edge, b.l.)

Extended inscriptions

I applied my mind to all this and I understood that the
Righteous and the wise and their doings are under
GOD'S control, but is it love or hatred? No man knows.
Everything that confronts him, everything is empty
since one and the same fate befalls every one, Just and unjust
alike, good and bad, clean and unclean.

Consider GOD'S handiwork;
who can straighten what he has
made crooked? When things go ill,
consider this: GOD has set the one
along-side the other in such a way
that no one can find out what is
to happen next: in my empty existence
I have seen it all, from a righteous
man perishing in his righteousness
to a wicked man growing
old in his wickedness. Do not be
over-righteous and do not be over-
wise. why make yourself a
laughing-stock? Do not be over
wicked and do not be a fool. Why
should you die before your
time? it is good to hold on to
one thing and not lose hold of
the other for a man who fears
God will succeed both ways
wisdom makes the wise man
stronger than the ten Rulers of a city.
the world contains no man
so Righteous that he can do right always
and never do wrong.


the man who offers sacrifice
and the man who does not.
Good man and sinner fare
alike, the man who can take
an oath and the man who does not.
this is what is wrong in all
that is done here under the Sun:
that one and the same fate
befalls every man. the hearts of
men are full of evil -
madness fills their hearts all
through their lives, and after
that they go down to join the Dead.
But for a man who is counted
among the living there is still
hope: Remember, a live dog is
better than a dead lion.
true the living know that they
will die; but the dead know
there are no more rewards
for them; they are utterly
for them love, hate, ambition,
are all now over: never again
will they have any part in
what is done here

Exhibition history

1983 Colin McCahon: Two Recent Paintings
Peter McLeavey Gallery
12/4/1983 - 1/5/1983

1988 Colin McCahon: Gates and Journeys
Auckland City Art Gallery
11/11/1988 - 26/2/1989

2002 Colin McCahon: A Question of Faith
Stedelijk Museum
30/8/2002 - 10/11/2002

2007 Colin McCahon: A National Gallery of Australia Focus Exhibition
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery
16/6/2007 - 2/9/2007


Although this work and its companion, Is there anything of which one can say look this is new?, were signed and dated in 1982, evidence suggests that they were substantially completed during 1980.
The texts are from Ecclesiastes, 7:13-20 and 9:1-2, 3-6, from the New English Bible.