The faces of Faith

Dolorosa - Murillo
Art is usually about playing the game, as I like to put it, and 99% of the times I am quite a gamer. There is one single space where I still have to struggle to reconcile my personal imagination with the historical collective imaginarium or with the huge range of artists' personal imaginations. That is religion.

Religion is something intimidatingly personal in spite of my capacity to argue about whether or not to belive, about whether or not to search for answers when a believer and so on. I might want to get involved with a good partner in any of those conversations but I am quite incapable of negotiating that much: my personal visual imaginarium attached to religion.

I have been walking up and down the corridors of many famous museums since I was a child. But I still find it difficult to  attach to a painting with religious contents for more than admiring the perfection of the transparent veil, the incredible shadows of the dress, the ethereal materia of the Dolorosa's tears, the surgical precision of the human anatomy. I might have less expectations in what concerns most saints but I make a difficult juror whenever Christ or the Virgin are shown.

I expect beauty, purity, overwhelming superiority of reason and emotion, light, pain, comprehension, faith... and the whole painted neither in too luxuriant colours, nor in colours too dull.  And, with such high expectations, I have not been oftenly pleased. I remember one day in Italy, after ten days of Uffizi, palazzi, musei, galerie, I saw this small painting and I was finaly able to hum "this might make it" in front of a painting with Virgin Mary whose author I do not  remember any longer.

Have you ever noticed that the Holy Child is almost always distinctively ungracious, too fat, too serious, too not so bright, too greedy? That the woman representing the Virgin often looks superficial, evil-speaking, limited, vulgar, egocentric or disappointingly house-maid-ish. I know that we are talking about cultural ideals of beauty and their evolution in time. However when you take an Italian Renaissance portret, chances are that you would be able to recognize in the character the very same human attributes that the painter initially wanted to convey to you. In most religious paintings, you don't. Or I don't.

Therefore, the are still very few alternatives I can accept. One of them in The heads of Christ by Rembrandt. Another is Murillo's Dolorosa up here.

Do you have the same kind of idiosyncrasia? How's yours?


  1. Răspunsuri
    1. Da, Fra Angelico. El Greco parca incepe sa mi se para facil in innegurarea lui, in culorile lui furtunoase.


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