The illusionary world of Contemporary Artistic Freedom
By Denis Taylor
I strayed across an interesting video on YouTube that got me thinking about the relationship between Artistic freedom and Modern Religious Art. This particular discussion, come lecture, was presented by a line up of tenured academics and young post graduate teachers. The panel argued how Contemporary Art institutions reacted negatively to work that was based on some sort of religious subjects. The discussion started after an initial lecture by one of the Academics (David Thyrell). So began two hours of surprising statements, amusing quotes, some fairly logical reasoning, heartfelt speeches and many contradictions from a dogmatic art academic viewpoint.
Thyrell reckoned that… “Only Art that is critical of (western) religion of faith is acceptable as Contemporary Art. And all other art that could be read as religious, is translated into one of a post minimalist view.” (And)…”that all references to faith and religion is edited out at source”. (And)…”the contemporary Art world does not seek any debate on this form of art because they see it as non-progressive, as propagandistic and not supportive of an advancing culture or indeed, enlightening mankind for the new centuries ahead of us.”
Thyrell spoke with passion and summed up his lecture by stating:- …”it seems, that religious work that is non-specific, for example, non- stated religious, ambiguous or totally abstracted with very loose associations, are acceptable as Contemporary Art. Providing the images are not from a Judeo Christian slant. However, the tribal, the Asiatic or the cultism subjects are OK.“
Judeo-Christians made up the bulk of the audience (note: it was held at a Roman Catholic University) I guessed they must have been appalled by the status-quo of the implied bigotry against religious art levelled against the- ‘Artists of Faith’ – as they call themselves. For me personally, there is no need to be religious specific to appreciate (or create) Art that is good, even if that Art owns its very existence to institutions of any religion persuasion who sponsored it, or indeed created by an artist that holds a particular belief system or faith.
Good Art is what floats my boat, I don’t care who or why or for whom it was created for. As for the rest of the Art that floods the web and the mass media art reviews, that Art that I find shallow, egoistically based, trendy or with intellectual inveigle admiration intentions, I simply pass quickly by, metaphorically speaking, without so much as a cursory thought. Btw: for me to be anguished by an Art as the above only goes to validate it as important to cultural advancement, which I personally think it is not.
Most artists, (those I do know intimately), when looking at a work of art that could be deemed as ‘Religious’, tend to ignore the possible original intended propaganda or dogma of it, but rather they concentrate on the pure magic of the Art work in front of them. For example some the work of by Pontormo and El Grego, to mention only two (religious) painters of the far distant past, whose work I greatly admire and gain much from, and which are tragically, still relevant today.
Deposition C. 1528 Oil On Wood, 313 X 192 Cm Cappella Capponi, Santa Felicità, Florence. Jacopo Pontormo.