Thursday, February 24, 2011

Resurrection of a Painting

The overview of Christian art history and the survey of Resurrection images presented over the last few entries was a way to prepare myself to create a sacred image of the Resurrection. My goal is to take the best of the Oriental and Occidental art traditions and combine them into one painting, producing an image of the Resurrection that contains carnal force and spiritual fullness. Over the course of my research, I discovered a number of interesting points useful towards this end:

-Developments in theology have always been followed by developments in art. 

-The images of the dominant or secular world were always a source for Christian artists. The church has never been afraid to appropriate what it wanted and needed from the culture at large and invest it with Christian meaning. 

-The Anastasis is the original icon/image of the Resurrection. This icon continues to be at the heart of the eastern icon and feast cycle. While the dominant image of the crucifixion in the Western Church implies the Resurrection, there is still a place for the Resurrection in a cycle of liturgical images. 
-The work of Michelangelo represents the high point of the infusion of spiritual with the natural. Caravaggio fully expresses the carnality of Christ.

Today’s culture, no longer having an understanding of the cross needs to be spoken to with an explanation of its fullness. An expansion of the importance and clarity of liturgical art can do this. In this world of images, the right ordering of images can help to trigger a desire to understand more fully the heavenly realities. "Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (Jn 6,40).

Theology, ancient texts and art history have all provided wonderful sources for my development of an image that would proudly continue the tradition of Catholic art. Specifically, Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body played a huge roll in my theological understanding of the body. But to feel like I was truly carrying on this tradition I imagined myself an artist working on the walls of the catacombs. I looked extensively at the culture around me and undertook an inventory of the best figurative art of today. A lifelong exposure to pop culture has been useful in developing my picture.

From comic book heroes 
John Byrne

Alex Ross

to pop culture illustration

Drew Struzan

Michael Kormack

to contemporary figurative painting

Daniel Sprick

Shane Wolf

beautiful human figures litter the contemporary cultural landscape. Many of these interpretations of the human body have their origins in traditional art. It was an artistic tradition with Catholic origins. 

My painting of the Resurrection of the Son of God, called Anastasis, is a Harrowing of Hell painted in the Western style, using modern reference and designed to be a part of a larger pictorial cycle within a church. 

Below it is presented in situ at San Filipo Neri church in Florence, Italy.

In upcoming posts I will share how I developed this image.

1 comment:

Brian David MacNeil said...

Hey buddy!!! I love the paintings!!!