The importance of religious art

The importance of religious art

Religious paintings are expressions of religious themes and principles from the perspective of individuals who are of different denominations and religious groups. These paintings can be traced to as far back as the 1st and 2nd centuries where artists were heavily influenced by their social and economic realities. Christian paintings for example, have been traced to as early as the 2nd century where inspired men and women have adapted Roman motifs to convey Christian meanings and messages. Islamic and Buddhist paintings were originated around the 5th and 6th centuries and their inspiration came from socio-economic factors like the decline of the Byzantine Emperor which has led to the reappraisal of Islamic art. Although sculpture is a widely accepted religious art form, some cultures have moved away from the use of sculpture to the use of paintings to depict biblical events and personalities because of the fear of creating pagan-style idols.


Religious Paintings Bring History To Life
For a long time artists who are inspired by religious art have proven their craft to be extremely significant in our understanding of biblical and historical events. Painters are known for using different colors, textures and styles to bring history to life thereby expanding one's imagination of past events. A painting of Mary holding baby Jesus for example, helps persons of this age to visualize Mary's humility and the swaddling cloth that was described in Luke 2:12. The painting of the crucifixion of Jesus is another popular piece of art within the Christian culture. Painters use realistic colors to demonstrate Jesus's agony, suffering and humility thereby bringing us back in time by more than two thousand years through the use of a single painting. The bible and other religious books are usually descriptive in nature forcing us to use our imaginations to visualize a person, a thing or religious event. However, an inspired painting can easily supplement the imagination especially in cases where persons have little or no access to history books and/or religious artifacts.  


Religious Paintings Are Used to Expound a Moral Message
Religious paintings are used for both decorative and reflective purposes. As it relates to decorations, paintings are usually hung on the sidewalls of churches and they depict scenes that can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. Outside of the context of the church, there are some individuals who use religious paintings to decorate the interior of their homes. Some say the paintings create an atmosphere that connects their minds with the realm of the spirit like the Buddhist and Islamic paintings which are widely used for meditation purposes. Whatever the purpose however, religious paintings are generally used to expound the moral message of the religion that is being purported by the painter.   They do not always depict stories and personalities that are found in the holy books, but they also depict the lifestyle of different religious groups like Muslims worshiping at the mosque and highlights of a typical Catholic wedding. 

   
Like photographs, religious paintings use colors and imagery to tell an entire story. Through paintings, a religious event that is described in the history books is given the same interpretation and meaning today except with fewer words. The concept of painting is similar to that of dreaming where God uses different symbols to convey a particular message or instruction. In the same way that dream symbols are often times misinterpreted, religious paintings are interpreted to mean different things by different individuals. Despite the various interpretations however, the intentions of religious painters remain the same. In other words religious paintings serve as a means of communication between two or more individuals in that several individuals can relate to a single piece of painting.


Some Religious Paintings Capture Details that are not Necessarily Described in the History Books
Some painters portray Jesus with a halo around his head not because the bible makes mention of a halo but because they've been inspired by their own experiences with Him. Akiane Kramarik is a renowned painter whose inspiration comes from visions and dreams that are given to her by God. Featured on the Oprah Winfrey's show in 2003, Akiane's painting of Jesus's face has won the hearts of many atheists and non-Christians for capturing details about Jesus that were never found in the history books. The painting was also featured in the Christian movie entitled Heaven is For Real where the main character also experienced a face to face encounter with Jesus. Paintings of this nature glorify Christianity and they can influence individuals to carry out deep soul searching bringing them even closer to God. Truth is, it is one thing for an individual to say that he (or she) has seen Jesus but it's another thing when that individual can illustrate to others the details of the person He has seen. Undoubtedly, details allow for greater conviction among individuals.


Religious paintings idealize, glorify, suggest and tell the story of a religion. They keep religious traditions alive and make it easier for individuals to visualize a concept or event that is otherwise difficult to imagine through the use of mere words. They speak to the minds and hearts of different individuals and are useful for convincing unbelievers to adopt a particular Religious belief or Religious culture. 

Posted on 03/22/2017 Art Blog 1379