Saturday, 22 June 2013

Via Pulchritudinis

"The Beauty of the Arts
If nature and the cosmos are the expression of the beauty of the Creator and bring us to the threshold of a contemplative silence, artistic creation possesses its own capacity to evoke the ineffable aspects of the mystery of God. The work of art is not "beauty" but its expression, and it possesses an intrinsic character of universality if it obeys the canons, which naturally fluctuate for all art is tied to a culture. Artistic beauty provokes interior emotion, it silently arouses astonishment and leads to an "exit from self," an ecstasy.
For the believer, beauty transcends the aesthetic and finds its archetype in God. The contemplation of Christ in the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption is the living source from which the Christian artist takes inspiration to speak of the mystery of God and the mystery of man saved in Jesus Christ. All Christian artwork has such a meaning: it is, by nature, a "symbol", a reality that refers beyond itself which leads along the path that reveals the meaning, origin and end of our terrestrial journey. Its beauty is characterised by a capacity to move from the interior "for self" to that of the "more than self." This passage becomes real in Jesus Christ, who is Himself "the way, the truth and the life," (Jn 14, 6) the "complete truth." (Jn 16, 13)"


The picture that I am currently working on is an illustration for my story 'The Woe Water'. It features the narrator, a monk in his cell, working on an illuminated manuscript. The scene is framed by the Romanesque arch of the doorway, with a stained-glass rose window illuminating the cell and sunflowers and bees outside.
The symbolism of the scene draws on various ideas that are currently occupying me , and which I have been thinking about for some time. I wanted to include the stained glass rose window as a reference to Bonaventure's analogy of stained glass with creation, illuminated by the light of God, an image of the the way of illumination or cataphatic way, whereby the meditation upon created things leads like a ladder to the creator. Beauty is reached by the beautiful.
The rays coming through the window can also be an image of the Awen, the ancient bardic symbol for inspiration, which illuminated the pre-Christian seers of these isles at midsummer when the veil between the worlds was thin. It brought the sweetness of wisdom and enabled the bard to sing truth.
That is also why the bee is in the picture, as a link between these two manifestations of the same idea in pagan and Christian culture. For the Celts, the bee was able to travel between the worlds at midsummer, and in creating honey was a symbol of wisdom which is sweet. But the bee is also there because the Christian monks have long kept bees, and the association goes beyond the simple material one of providing beeswax and honey. Bees live together in community, diligently working for the greater good of the hive, yet working individually, carefully gathering pollen. The individual work of each monk in his cell also gains its meaning in relation to the whole monastery, work and prayer joining them together in their orientation to God.

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