Alla scoperta di Art and Theology: un incontro tra creatività e spiritualità 19 Settembre 2019 – Edito in: Dentro il libro – Autore: Maria Cecilia Del Freo

Dal ciclo di conferenze svoltesi nel 2017 tra Francia e Italia – a maggio – e Stati Uniti a ottobre nasce questo volume che, in sei sezioni, affronta il rapporto tra Arte e Teologia ma non solo. Lo spirito che anima e percorre i temi-chiave affrontati nella pubblicazione restituisce un intento ben superiore al carattere, solo in apparenza, composito del volume Art and Theology in Ecumenical Perspective. Come infatti precisa il curatore, Timothy Verdon, nella sua approfondita introduzione al contesto nel quale è maturata l’opera, essa represents an unprecedented attempt to bring Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican artists, art historians and theologians together to discuss the arts. The exceptional quality of the scholars, and their different confessional, intellectual and cultural backgrounds, give the ensemble of texts a ‘unity in diversity’ appropriate to the ecumenical perspective which animated the 2017 event, and it is not unreasonable to hope that the appearance of such different points of view in a single publication may indeed favor future dialogue. Certainly, the efforts made here by artists and art historians to reason in theological terms, and by theologians to grasp the implications of artistic creation, are significant steps toward understanding how human beings created in the image of their Creator are ipso facto creative and define their relationship with God through acts which let them mirror his creativity.

Andrea Pisano, Apelle ossia la pittura, formella del Campanile di Giotto (lato settentrionale)

Andrea Pisano, Apelle ossia la pittura, formella del Campanile di Giotto (lato settentrionale)

 

Quale primato?

The arts in general claim the right of autonomy, in the name of their need for freedom and truth. The act of artistic creation is, in its free gesture, a quest for truth. The musician Modest Mussorgsky, writing to his friend Stassov, evoked this ‘truth at point-blank range’. Artists look for flesh-and-blood truth, naked truth, stripped of all rhetoric or ornament. The arts come to grips with the real just as it is, and express fundamental anthropological questions. Yet that truth ‘encloses us in immanence’, vowing us to the world and only to the world. When, however, the arts give flesh to a strong presence of human vulnerability and finitude, they resound powerfully with the figure of the Crucified. The creative struggle with matter which produces musical compositions, paintings, architectural structures, videos or theater productions can ‘direct people toward God’.

Between the quest for truth that takes flesh in the act of artistic creation, and truth’s fulfillment in and through Jesus Christ, more than one significant echo resounds, in fact, and art and theology beckon to each other. Yet the union of these two words can pose a problem, for what in fact does creative artistic practice have in common with a discipline that is discursive and analytic?

Obviously the main danger to avoid is that of reducing art to a tool of theology – the idea that art is at the service of theology, remaining subordinate to the summons of theology, which itself risks nothing. According to that conception, theology certainly evolves, but in its own order and in complete autonomy, and Christian faith remains a permanent reality because transcendent, with theology preserving its integrity and enlightening its content. In that view, the arts do no more than extend the theologian’s hand and are reduced to mere pedagogical tools, as Pope Gregory I affirmed long ago.
Such a view is insufficient. In reality the arts, at the very heart of the aesthetic experience which they propose, have their own specific field of comprehension and their own theoretical fecundity, being able to elaborate their own religious representation of the world. In that sense, they are truly able to put questions to theologians, and it is possible to establish an authentic dialogical relationship between the arts and theology.

If we preserve the distinctive original character of both the arts and theology, it seems to us that their dialogue is a two-way hermeneutical product: artistic creation can be considered a hermeneutic of Catholic faith ‘in action’, and theology a hermeneutic of art’s expressions, for both speak of the Christian faith and are potential paths to God.

Croce astile, disegnata dalla Comunità di Gesù e realizzata da Robert Jordan

Croce astile, disegnata dalla Comunità di Gesù e realizzata da Robert Jordan

L’estratto qui presentato, a firma di Denis Villepelet, ci introduce a pieno nella relazione che sussiste tra Arte e Teologia, mettendo in guardia dal rischio più concreto che si possa correre: considerare la prima al mero servizio della seconda. Non si tratta infatti di un rapporto di subordinazione, ma al contrario di un fecondo scambio reciproco. Ciò però è possibile mantenendo, quasi custodendo, l’originale autonomia delle due.

Dal catalogo