Home Re/formation Institute WHAT IS ART? Part 2
WHAT IS ART? Part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Thursday, 30 January 2014 19:18

ART AS REPRESENTATION OF GOD

By representing God, we mean representing His attributes: His triune personality, eternality and spirituality; His omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience; His transcendence and immanence; His love and compassion, His mercy and His wrath. None of these attributes are physical or dimensional and therefore Art that represents them will not be literal, but will need to be abstract or symbolic. Words can never capture God nor the attributes of God. They are far from adequate to express eternal and spiritual realities and mysteries and thus word pictures, figures of speech and symbols or symbolic actions, as well as different kinds of stories including parables, allegories, fantasy and drama are required. None of these will ever “capture” God either, but they are necessary means to help express truth about Him. The Bible itself is God’s own example of using literary and visual means to communicate to us. No Art, no matter how well intentioned, can ever be an exact copy or perfect representation of anything about God (or of anything else for that matter). We are talking of revealing what is inner, spiritual and essential, not external and accidental.

Abstract Art by definition is non-representative, non-figurative, non-objective. Therefore, this type of Art can not reveal or reflect God Himself as it is usually devoid of life and feelings, nor can it represent the work of God or the natural world as He created it. However, the argument is made that Abstract Art, by using lines and color combinations in an abstract way can capture the inner, intrinsic qualities of its subject better than representative realism. If so, this kind of Art may serve to communicate particular aspects of the Biblical World View (below).

All attempts at representational realism in Art (including photography) expresses the artist’s interpretation of what [he] sees and [his] choices of focus, point of view or perspective and composition, as well as materials, medium, colors, technique and style. Doing this, the artist invariably is revealing something of himself as well as [his] subject. Therefore, the success of a work of art will always be variable, never perfect, since the measure of good art is the degree to which it is a faithful representation of God alone.

The material, form, style and technique used will change over time and place (or culture). There is no God-given, Biblical form, style and technique for any Art (including music). For the art to be representative in a meaningful way, to effectively communicate what it is “saying”, the “language” used must be both faithful to the subject and meaningful to the viewer, listener or reader. The work of art must be interpreted as the artist intended. Therefore, the “language” used must be intentionally chosen to effectively communicate the meaning of the attribute of God [or Reality] in the artist’s mind. If it does not, it has failed as a work of Art.
We learn from the Genesis creation account, Art work is not instantaneous and simply by command. It is a process whereby order is made from disorder, in which form is given to the formless. This process will begin in the mind and imagination (both) of the would-be artist and executed with intelligence and honed skills. There are rules and norms to follow in the work of creating. Secondary means will be used. The process will take time and go through much natural modification before achieving the planned purpose and finally pronounced as “good“.

Let it be noted that slapstick, shoddy work is not good Art, nor is ugly, chaotic, undisciplined or destructive work good Art.

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