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Essay

Painting Reality

By October 30, 2013 2 Comments
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What art captivates your attention?

I remember the first time I walked through the Museum of Modern Art, I felt like I was Alice who was walking around in my Wonderland. The first time I stood in front of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night my eyes glistened. I snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook. My friend, Gretchen, noted that in the movement of the picture it is

 the church in the distance that seems to be the focal point of calm. Van Gogh even chose to paint the church a lighter color that contrasts with the midnight colors swirling in the picture. That painting has taken on new meaning in my life, in my faith, and I find myself thinking about it this week.

 

I remember traveling to the room full of Rothko canvases as color invaded my senses. On a superficial level, Rothko was an abstractionist who knows about color relationship (though I’m pretty sure he would not like that I just described him that way). The color confronts your emotion; you become part of the painting. You leap into the narratives that are playing in your soul. His work is powerful and often misunderstood.

 

And then there was first time I encountered La Danse by Henri Matisse.  Oh what a glory this painting is! When I imagine God, I often think of this painting. While there are two too many figures to represent an absolute Trinitarian God, I will sometimes read Jürgen Moltmann when I stand in front of this painting. Matisse conveys the Perichoretic nature, making room around each other, of how I imagine God. As a feminist, of course I love the feminine bodies, graced together in a circle. I imagine that is how God welcomes us to participate with God. I think of Jesus words in John 15 “You are my friends” and as friends we participate with God in the dance. I really love this painting.

 

Perhaps the most influential artist in my life is Frida Kahlo. I was first introduced to her work by her 1940 Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair. She is in an oversized pantsuit with her long hair cut off that is dramatically peppering the floor. It is said she painted this right after she divorced her husband, Diego Rivera.  Kahlo’s honest truth about the pain and joy in her life captures me. Her paintings carry a color of sadness in them that I sometimes find refreshing because I often find church circles sing too much in the major key. I value honesty and it is her honesty, along with her captivating paintings, that have become friends in my life.

 

Art has a way of disrupting lies, prophetically proclaiming truth, and welcoming us to come and rest. Thomas Merton said “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” I find this to be true in my life.

 

What art captivates your attention?  

 

 

 

Jes Kast

The Reverend Jes Kast is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament and serves West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Pastor.

2 Comments

  • Nick Kroeze says:

    My immediate reaction to your question, Jes, was–honestly–your writing, which I thought was artistically communicated. Reflecting specifically on visual art, it is those pieces which engage my imagination and lead me to think more creatively to which I gravitate. Such art is energizing to me and inspires new ways of expressing myself. One of my favorite pieces is "Ghost Clock" by Wendell Castle–a remarkably realistic (though fun and whimsical) wood carving. Thanks for the good thoughts today. –Nick

  • Thank you, Nick. That was heartwarming.

    I searched "Ghost Clock" and found a person described it as " a powerful example of trompe l'oeil, a French term that means "to fool the eye." So interesting. Thanks for increasing my awareness on the art out there.

    Peace – Jes

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