I want to introduce a painting that was formed out of some experiences I made over the last two years. The specific impulse came when I was browsing online and came across a contemporary painting of a half dressed human. While (in my book) the naked human form in its intriguing complexity is a beautiful sight, this person was portrayed in a very unflattering and provocative way – almost shocking by depicting the graceless and repellent. At least this was the immediate reaction impressed onto me (it was pretty clear the artist didn’t try to paint a classic bathing nymph, to be sure).
While I was pondering the use of provocation in art, I thought of the countless offensive and sometimes humorous rebellious pieces of the last century. I was trying to define my personal standpoint to the question of how necessary art as a carrier of social criticism is, and of the tools and ways of transporting it. What is your opinion? I would love to hear of it in the comments.
Here’s my take on it:
When tolerance is not linked to a widely agreed-upon ethical structure – we tolerate those who disagree with that structure – but is untethered to any structure, it becomes the supreme good, and soon becomes astonishingly intolerant of those who disagree with this new tolerance.
In ‘Countercultural’ I wanted to depict an honest spirituality and the personal dialogue with a God that is no longer acceptable in our mainstream culture. In an age without objective truths or absolute authorities, the concept of an universal good or evil fades into ‘personal preferences’. Everything goes – except saying that not everything goes.
Having become a Christian quite unexpectedly at age 40 it seemed no one would have been more surprised than me. But soon I discovered my search for truth in an ‘organized and outdated religion’ instead of choosing any hip fareastern-western ‘bake your own God’ mix reaped harsh criticism from many secular friends.
Moreover, my distasteful new habit of not putting God in a convenient corner to be dusted off once a week, earned skepticism even from some Christian acquaintances.
Weren’t us artists traditionally the ones provoking thought and discussion? So here’s a new ‘rebellion’: I painted a real Christian – not one paying lip service or using the name for political reasons – in all her beauty caused by grace and peace coming from a deep well.