And I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18
* * * * *
To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts—such is the duty of the artist. –Schumann
* * * * *
It’s good that we know how things turn out in the end. Having read the last page—and knowing that God is victorious in the end—helps to take the edge off our cynicism and disappointment when yet another buffoon maligns our faith.
Maybe you’ve guessed that I’m talking about the “Persona Non Grata—The Veil of History” exhibit, which opens February 5 at Toronto’s Bezpala Brown Gallery. The artist, Peter Alexander Por, is just the latest in a line of “avant garde” artists whose tasteless work intends to offend: Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” featuring a plastic crucifix in a vat of urine; a painting of Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas in Florida’s Broward Museum; “The Misadventures of Roman Cannibals,” Enrique Chagoya’s pornographic work depicting Jesus in a lewd act, which was destroyed by a distraught woman with a crowbar.
Por’s art is unique in that it’s not a single work which is deserving of scorn—rather, it seems, his entire collection of 30 canvases and four sculptures is worthy of the trash dumpster. Paramount among this depraved collection are a painting of Pope Benedict which has been riddled with bullets, in protest of the Catholic Church’s “archaic policies,” and a depiction of the “crucifixion of Obama” casting the current U.S. president, according to the gallery, as “a victim, crucified in the wake of special and distorted interests.” Other canvases provide a negative portrayal of historic figures including Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mussolini, and Pope Innocent III.
Sorry, but I am not including any of these controversial pictures here—instead, I’m posting Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” fresco from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You may see the offending works—in the news or, depending on how important it is to you, on the websites of the galleries involved—but I sure won’t help to spread the loathing by showcasing them.
You see, I believe that art is a powerful expression of the ineffable. A beautiful painting can touch our very souls, strengthen our beliefs, join us in a common appreciation of the world in which we live. Art helps us to hope, to grow, to love, to dream.
To subjugate these noble purposes under the crushing weight of radical anti-Catholicism or homosexual depravity is to deny our dignity as creatures made in the image of a great and loving God.
* * * * *
Carol Strickland, writing in The Christian Science Monitor, asked “Does Beauty Still Belong in Art?” To read her beautiful essay, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1220/p09s03-coop.html