Oil on canvas, 76cm x 121cm (February 2016)
O Yemi : "I wanted this painting to be Biblical but using modern day images. While planning this, the horrors in the Mediterranean Sea unfolded. I saw images of Italian coast guards fishing African immigrants out of the sea – the victims of human trafficking – and an iconic image of a Syrian drowned baby being carried by Turkish police at the coast resort of Bodrum. This child was just one of many Syrians drowned as they attempted to reach the Greek island of Kos. O Yemi therefore titled this painting – “The Fishers of Men”
“The Fishers of Men” was the phrase the Lord Jesus used to call his disciples to save human souls from the predator (the Satan). In this painting, President Bashar Al-Assad and Islamic State terrorists are the sharks, the predators who the Syrians are running away from. The Africans are running from poverty and longing for a better life in Europe. This made them victims of human trafficking. Fishers of men are not only coast guards that rescued the refugees from drowning. Fishers of men includes ‘good neighbour’ nations like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey which are caring for larger numbers of refugees from Syria. Fishers of men are the good people of Europe that welcome the refugees with open arms. Fishers of men are those that met the refugees with boxes of supplies, offering candy and cuddly toys for the refugee children.
African immigrants were full of hope for a better life in Europe that made them sell all they owned, or made them borrow to pay the human traffickers to make the journey to Europe. The Syrian immigrants that were running away from ISIS’s murderous campaigns and the rain of fire from the Syrian government are hoping for peaceful new lives in Europe which made them make the perilous journey. Unfortunately the hopes of many drowned with them in the sea. Some of the Africans and Syrian refugees were lucky enough to be fished-out from the sea while many of them were not so lucky and drowned."