Encountering the Cross - St. Giles, Oxford - 2019
The Cross is an immensely powerful and yet profoundly enigmatic symbol. On the one hand the cross is an instrument of torture and horror; on the other hand, with faith we see in the cross the mystery of God's love. So how does an artist "encounter" - "come face to face" - with the Cross?
© Robert Wright
As an abstract artist I am concerned with an interiorized vision and a search to express the inner life of things, in this case the Cross. So it is interesting that in all five of the paintings I am showing in this exhibition - Jesus carries his cross; compassionate love; the seven last words; the hell of contemplation; and from darkness to light - there are actually clear references to the Cross. I hope as you look at these paintings you might find an answer to why that is, within yourself.
The artist certainly wants to feel that he or she has given the painting a conviction that is convincing. Does it, then, make sense to say that a good painting has authority and a clarity that distinguishes it from the ordinary clutter of things? – a question for you to consider as you encounter these paintings.
"Art in the contemplative life can really open up new capacities and new areas in the person of the contemplative."Thomas Merton [1915-1968]
You could say that when you look at a painting it is a bit like meeting people and indeed I try to create paintings that are not conclusive but that can be, perhaps need to be, interpreted by the viewer with their own experience and perspective. And, like contemplation, they demand silence and attentiveness so that questions can be asked of the painting, of you, and (perhaps, if the painting is successful) of God.
And part of the excitement for me as an artist is that we shall all bring our own experiences to this encounter between the painting, the viewer and our Creator.
As we look at these paintings, we can ask ourselves : what do I see?; what is the painting trying to say?; and does it work?