For me there is no separation between spirituality and art; it is one and the same thing. To express the essence of what it is to exist is, indeed, connecting to the divine.
I was really excited about visiting ‘Still Small Voice’ Biblical Art in a Secular Age (1850-2014) at The Wilson, Cheltenham. Biblical art has always hooked me in and captivated me. No matter which artist or style of working, they all fascinate me. Biblical Art always expresses so much more than a mere story or image…
The exhibition is full of inspiring pieces, all of which spoke in a variety of different and beautiful ways. But one, for me, grabbed me by the guts and shook me hard.
‘Body of Christ’ (Red background) , 2008 – Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009)
The reduction of the image of Christ to almost a mark on the canvas, to me, shouted louder and more fiercely than any huge show of grandeur and story-telling. It made me stop, stock-still and caught me breathless. The vibrancy of the red background colour, with the stark, strong and definite marks depicting the image of Jesus was mesmerising in its simplicity and mandala-like as it drew me inside. I stood for some time absorbing its energy, and with its lack of narrative I was able to explore my own thoughts through it…
Jesus’s life was a mark in time which continues to vibrate through history and into the future. If, like this piece by Aitchison, we go behind the images, the idolatry, the rules and the teachings. If we go right back to the essence and heartbeat of the silence, from where Jesus came. If we listen quietly to the ‘no’-thing. If we open up our soul and ignore the mind, we might also be able to feel the heartbeat of the silence within us, and through this connect to the divine. If we create art from the empty, infinite void, rather than from knowledge-based, category-based, ‘fit in a box’ ideals, we too might be able to create something of such simplicity, such beauty, and with such a small but overwhelmingly powerful voice. If we over-complicate, over-adorn, over-think the art that we create it sometimes loses its impact.
Sometimes less really is more….
29th MARCH 2015