THE CROSS AND THE DOUBLE-CROSS, a series comprising one dozen paintings, reflects Rasmussens own experiences as a young man raised in a religious home where rigorous rules of piety were contradicted by abusive acts of hypocrisy.
As he matured, the reaction to such impossible-to-join extremes gave birth to doubts that made him challenge the doctrines of organized religion. He could not answer questions such as: if God exists, why does he allow evil and suffering?
This is the subject of the painting Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani (the last words uttered by Jesus on the cross). The image juxtaposes the body of Christ with primitively scratched words that could be modern incarnations of the Catholic religions Seven Deadly Sins: famine, war, poverty, child pornography, fundamentalism, corruption, racism); nor could Rasmussen solve the problem posed in Tree of Life? (questioning the validity of the promise that those who believe will be rewarded with eternal lifeif untrue, this would constitute the ultimate double-cross); nor could he reconcile with the conflict of Baby Jesus (where the realistically rendered portrait of a baby replaces Christs face atop his crudely drawn, emaciated body, suggesting a confrontation with a divine power that allows millions of children to be born into poverty and starvation); nor could he accept the deplorable views depicted in a more recent painting, Wo Man Hood (shown in the subsequent section) which matches the shape of a cross to that of a woman with her outstretched armsher head and face covered by the top portion of a burqa that is fading away at the neck, leaving the rest of the body naked and exposed to the lusty explorations of a mans eyea poignant allusion to the repressive and hypocritical Muslim view of women.
With its application of actual rope and wire mesh, this painting represents Rasmussens venture into the use of three-dimensional objects, creating what Rauschenberg termed a combine. While the paintings in this series are controversial in that they offend some viewers, other images in the series simply pay homage to religious art as sucha theme that has provided inspiration for artists throughout the ages.