Monday, June 29, 2009

A night at the museum, actually an afternoon.

I took the family to the art museum at our university yesterday. Actually they took me, my kids were performing in something called the Sunday of sound which is part of something called the world harmony project. At any rate after they finished with their singing, dancing and drumming I was not going to just go home and waste a chance to explore with the wife and kids.

The first gallery we visited was the one my children were performing in, the exhibit was called. ON THE ROAD Two Visions of the Tokaido. It featured wood block printings by two different artists, Hiroshige and Sekino. The prints all featured scenes from along the Tokaido which is a trade road between Tokyo and Kyoto. All of the prints were lovely and I had a great time watching my childrens reactions and explaining how wood block prints were made. My son was his usual inquisitive self, pointing out all of his favorites and asking endless questions, my daughter on the other hand was quiet and introspective. I did not get much response from her until we proceeded to the Chinese art exhibits. She was fascinated by the Treasure Wall which featured an assortment of pottery and sculpture from the time of the Quianlong Emperor. The treasures were definitely worthy of her interest. Exquisitely carved jade, meticulously detailed glazes on the pottery, beautiful Cobalt blue glass. I fell in love with it as much as she did. My son really liked the dragon sculptures, and a pair of wedding cups with lion carved handles.

After that there followed exhibits from many cultures including modern works. My favorite gallery however is the Russian religious Icons. The paintings of the haloed Jesus are perfectly executed and serene. I enjoy all sorts of religious art but I think it is only the Russians who truly make Christ beautiful. Seeing these wonderful paintings and sculptures reflecting a variety of religions and cultures, filled me with a great sense of contentment. Despite all of the harm and corruption that has been committed in the name of the gods man creates, a wealth of sublime beauty has come from it as well. It is times like this that I can almost feel why the believers want to believe so badly. It is hard to look at such subtle skill and realize that it is the work of mortal men and women, the work does inspire a feeling of transcendence. However it seems to me even more satisfying to see this as testimony to the greatness of our species rather than attribute it to the mythological figures being depicted.


Sye TenB said...

Pictures of Jesus are in violation of the second commandment. No wonder you liked 'em.

Ryk said...

Howdy Syester, in fact on this we are actually in agreement.

Sye TenB said...

I imagine that you would not be surprised how many professed Christians actually disagree with me on this :-)

Ryk said...

I am surprised by very little that Christians do. However scripturally you are correct. No graven images, is very explicit. The same is true for crosses, crucifixes and Jesus fishes. There are some that say any graven image even those not intended for worship or veneration are a violation, from a literal reading I would agree, although I have heard that in the original Hebrew it only applies to religious icons. I can't say therefore if a painting of a lake or bird for instance constitutes a graven image for this purpose, but a painting of Jesus or Yahwheh certainly would.