One of the most illuminating images of the crucifixion of Jesus in art is that of Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). Called the Deposition from the Cross and painted around 1602-3 it depicts Jesus being taken down from the cross to be conveyed to his tomb.
This is an image full of intense emotion not withstanding the high drama of the scene itself, which he depicts with intense realism.
The painting highlights the shift from classical idealism in art at the time to naturalism, for which Caravaggio became famous.
In our contemporary age the Christian church stands as an outrageous statement of faith. It is about people with all their flaws, frailty and foibles striving together to survive in a world that so often only invests in self to the detriment of others.
Christians are not perfect and have never purported to be so. They act together, helping out their neighbours, helping out perfect strangers, offering a hand out, or a leg up to the needy, to the homeless, to those who come to the church for help, beaten, betrayed, bruised and battered often by family members.
It always seems far more appropriate to talk about Jesus, the Christ at Easter than at Christmas.
Christmas it seems today is only about having a break in middle of the business year in the northern hemisphere, and celebrating at the end of one in the southern hemisphere.
This ensures that many people in Australia are far more prone to just collapsing and chilling out with a chardonnay rather than thinking of calling on Christ.
At Easter our main adversaries are seemingly only a bevvy of bunnies and everyone’s addiction for chocolate. They are not nearly in the same league as Santa Claus.
And how do you explain to people’s, whose cultures do not have a concept of Christianity how bunnies, emerging from coloured or chocolate eggs, are related to the crucifixion of a saintly man on a cross? All it takes from us to get rid of them entirely is a touch of the sun or, a big mouth.
As a visual metaphor more than a bevvy of bunnies can be scary. While cute, they are in some contexts, also about wilful destruction.
So if this were true are the chocolate bunnies a reflection of our frailty and humanity? Or are we better than that?
Surely trying to do our best and ‘to do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is what is at the heart of the challenge of the Easter festival.
In both Australia and New Zealand following hot on the heels of Easter is Anzac Day, the day of the year we remember those wonderful men and women from our own countries, and from the countries of our allies, all of whom contributed, served and died alongside our men and women in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.
ANZAC is about celebrating the best of our human qualities.
Courage, mateship, and sacrifice continue to have more meaning and relevance. Today they are at the very essence of an Australian sense of national identity. So perhaps it would be good during the days over Easter to close our eyes, even if for a few moments, and remember all those who have died with hope in their hearts… including Jesus – ‘…father forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
Easter is the central tenet of the Christian faith. Perhaps watching the 2004 movie of the Passion of Christ may be helpful for many. Certainly it will for many media reporters who never seem to get their facts right. Actor/Director Mel Gibson’s take on what happened in the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem is very close to the bone and very real.
And it’s not just about Jesus being flogged. It’s about betrayal, about losing faith, lack of trust and the denial of friendship, which is why it probably made many people squirm.
Jesus probably felt something akin to what those ANZAC boys felt when they fell and died so valiantly on the beaches in the trenches of lands otherwise unknown to them.
“Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” he said, which translated is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Life, love and peace are new born at Easter. Good Friday is a day of sadness for millions of people world wide, who go on a journey through the passion story of Jesus, as they come to terms with his dying as a martyr for his cause and to spread a message of love and forgivenss.
A symbol of St John the Evangelist, the chalice, or cup of Christ is disposed on a stem and is used to contain the wine of the mass, which is a service celebrating the life of Jesus the Christ held over the Easter period.
It represents his blood, which transforms and/or strengthens. It also commemorates, as it celebrates the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples before he was betrayed and crucified on a cross.
The word chalice derives from the Latin calix, meaning cup. The chalice is an attribute of faith personified, holding the blood of the redeemer while signifying the central place of communion in worship for the Christian Church.
In art the chalice is identified with the priesthood. Celebrated examples are the Great Chalice of Antioch (Syria) made in the first century of embossed silver and excavated there in 1910. A sacred vessel, the chalice recalls a time when it was reputedly buried with a priest in his tomb. It is also a recognized emblem of many saints suggesting the promise made by Jesus the Christ to the followers of his way “if ye shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt you”.
The chalice prayer was created by Francis Nuttall.
Father, to you I raise my whole being
- a vessel emptied of self. Accept, O Lord,
this my emptiness, and so fill me with
yourself, your light, your love, your
life – that these your precious gifts
may radiate through me and over-
flow the chalice of my heart into
the hearts of all with whom I
come in contact this day
revealing unto them
the beauty of
of your peace
which nothing can destroy.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept, 2013-2014
Last week saw the Fash Pack descend onto the Sydney suburb of Redfern for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) and I viewed first hand the up and coming trends of 2014.
Here is my overview of the shows I was invited to experience.
My first was the amazing Aurelio Costarella, whose wonderful collection I shared with you last week.
I must say, by the end of the week it was still my favourite.
The trademark contemporary classics of this label include delicate silk chiffon gowns, intricate handcrafted beadwork, embroidery and sharp tailoring.
It’s no wonder he has gained such an impressive reputation globally and celebrities clamour to …
“Knowledge comes from seeing much” is a particularly relevant comment for students of art. The Chinese dynasty known as Ming seems relatively near and modern in the long context of Chinese history. In 1368 when it began, many scholars consider the supreme periods of the major arts, such as literature, calligraphy and painting had already passed. Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy—Selections from the Collection of Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has been designed to introduce viewers to the art of the written word that was prized above all other visual art forms in traditional China. It will open on April 29, 2014.
Filling one huge wall of the highlights of the exhibition is the 16th-century album by Wen Peng (1497-1573) called The 1000-Character Classic; consisting of 85 leaves of Chinese script. In China scholars and scholar-officials were taught the ‘arts’ of poetry, painting and calligraphy during the 11th century and the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127). It is at this time the development of printing became central to a great burst of intellectual activity. In 105 there was the discovery of paper, traditionally credited to the enuch Ts’ai Lun and Feng Tao, traditionally regarded as the inventor of printing, presented the royal family a complete edition of the classics in 953. It was the Sung dynasty who reaped the benefits of this new aid to scholarship and learning.
As in the courts and great houses of Europe there was a very rich and symbolical language, which people read because they were visually aware and well acquainted with the stories. So it was the same in China. By the late Ming Period c1573-1644 new developments in the ancient arts of calligraphy and painting occurred through mutual discussion and creative interaction. The selection of works and their interpretation are intended to speak to beginners and specialists alike.
The works the literati of China produced was all about heightening an awareness of the artist as an individual and introduce the key concepts of format, script type, and style. An artists position in the world and relationship with his peers was assured in China and artist scholars attained a high level of artistic merit, especially when it was tinged with extreme, poetic elegance that reflected a healthy attitude towards the development of art and society together. Emperor Ch’ien-lung (1711-1799) understood this and was recorded in his scholarly surroundings when painted by a Jesuit priest Giuseppe Castiglione, who lived at the court of three Chinese emperors and is renowned for introducing ideas of perspective into Chinese art.
Some of the most notable works on view will be: a transcription of the Buddhist text The Lotus Sutra (Miaofa lianhua jing) by Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322); a scroll of poems written in powerful cursive script by Xiong Tingbi (1569-1625), a Ming general charged with defending the Great Wall; a cluster of works by 17th-century Ming loyalists; and an important group of 19th-century pieces by the masters of the “Epigraphic School,”. If you are living in, or visiting New York, The Met offers a gateway into the rich tradition of Chinese Calligraphy. There are also educational programs and tours. Exhibition Dates: April 29–August 17, 2014 Exhibition Location: Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, Galleries 210-215.
When Easter Sunday dawns for many it is more than a relief it's a joy. Why? Because it's about the hope of re-birth, about being allowed to have second chances
A symbol of St John the Evangelist, the chalice is a cup on a stem used to contain the Eucharist wine and represents Jesus the Christ's blood, which transforms
Art from the Hearth is a unique exhibition of decorative arts; a stunning array of ceramics, rare objects and art from Adelaide collector David Roche's kitchen
The Pier Group hosts fundraising lunches that are lively, entertaining and sometimes outrageous, to help people 'get involved' with the Sydney Theatre Company
Hobart Baroque 2014 Australia's exciting 'early music' festival has provided a huge boost to tourism and invigorated Tasmania's reputation as a cultural haven