ArtWay

In our lives there is a colour like that on a painter’s palette, which gives meaning to both life and art. It is the colour of love. Marc Chagall

Arent Weevers and Janpeter Muilwijk

ArtWay Visual Meditation March 31, 2019

www.artway.eu

Arent Weevers and Janpeter Muilwijk

The Naked Truth

by Anikó Ouweneel

The Doopsgezinde Singelkerk (Mennonite Singel Church) is one of the special locations of the contemporary art pilgrimage Art Stations of the Cross, to be experienced in the heart of Amsterdam this Lent. This hidden church (a church that is not recognizable as such from the street) dates from 1639. In the 16th-century the Anabaptists had an extraordinary history. In Amsterdam they were called the ‘naked runners’, who proclaimed the ‘naked truth’ to the city’s people. They considered all possessions, clothing included, as the dross of the earth. Now, in this open-minded Mennonite congregation, two artworks in which nudity plays an important role take shelter. Nudity means something else here than being naked or without clothes. It represents a transparency. We are all born naked and naked we leave this world. Nakedness also refers to the state of our souls.

The entrance on the Singel leads to the church through the so called ‘cloister’, two ancient alleyways covered with marble. Recently the old water well of the building was excavated and is to be seen right next to the room where the 3D (stereoscopic) video-installation Josephine’s Well is placed: another surprising cross-reference between this artwork and the location.  

This interactive installation stands for Station # 8 ‘Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem’. In our turbulent times with growing insecurities you can react in two ways: try to save yourself in a Pavlovian response or, with spirit and compassion, ask yourself who is most affected by the storm. Jesus always had the impression that other people were worse off than himself. Why? Because he acted from a position of serene calm, from a profound relationship with the Creator. He saw how orphaned others were. While being tormented, he himself comforted the weeping women.

Everybody experiences this installation in a different way. Stepping up a few steps and through a curtain one enters a dark space filled with soft music. Here a video is projected on a large invisible screen in the ground. You use a pair of 3D glasses which make the figures of young girls and a female nude float towards you. In cosmic solitude powerful yet vulnerable creatures levitate closer as from the depth of a well. They look at you silently and you can almost reach their stretched-out hand (an effect of 3D, not to be experienced through a photo). They make an appeal. This results in, as inevitably in the case of art, a very personal experience depending on the history of the viewer. But somehow for each of us it is about being orphaned in the center of our beings, in our naked souls, and about the (im)possibility to touch each other. Perhaps it is also an exercise in compassion, in relating to the o/Other. The experience left me speechless.

The diptych Der Tod und das Mädchen found a place in the ‘cloister’ at the top of stairs. This oil painting stands for Station # 9 in this project: ‘Jesus falls a third time under the weight of his cross’. And yet he gets up again. Tortured, bleeding and exhausted, he still gets up. He wants to accomplish his task. The ultimate counterpoint to this third fall is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on the third day after the crucifixion.

Artist Janpeter Muilwijk painted this work after the suicide of his daughter Mattia. The artist says: “In this traumatic period of my life, painting turned out to be a source of comfort, raising the big questions in a different way after the suicide of Mattia. There were no unequivocal answers, no definitive conclusions, but images that drilled down to a deeper layer, beyond thoughts and words. This series of paintings offered me a look into my own soul. In spite of the big shock of this great loss, they incorporate a calm presence of loveliness and comfort. Death is only a passage. My deceased daughter brings me into an endless space beyond my perception of finite life: the immortality of our souls.”

   

Jesus’ Via Dolorosa is a profound answer to the question: Does the world really matter to me? This compassion paved the way to the possibility of true encounter, true relationship. According to Christian tradition the death and resurrection of Jesus form the pivotal breakthrough in human history. Now Creator and creation can touch each other again and the journey of getting to know each other can commence. And this eases the solitude for all. Vulnerability, tenderness, love and compassion form the naked truth, where the human soul can come to rest.

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Arent Weevers: Josephine’s Well, 3D (stereoscopic) video installation, 3’37’’, 2011. Music: David Dramm.

Janpeter Muilwijk: Der Tod und Das Mädchen, 2017, diptych, oil on linen, 225 cm x 110 cm.

Arent Weevers (Ede, 1958) is a Dutch artist specialized in spirituality and video art. He also works as a student pastor in Deventer. He studied theology at the Free University in Amsterdam and in Leiden. In 2010 he received the prize for ‘Best International Video Art Short’ during the New York International Film Festival for Mary! (2008). In 2014 Embrace Me was chosen during Unpainted, Media Art Fair in Munich, Germany as 'highlight of new media art'. www.arentweevers.com

Janpeter Muilwijk (Fontainebleau, 1960) lives and works in Middelburg, the Netherlands. He studied drawing and painting at the School of the Arts in Kampen and Architectural Design at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht. www.janpetermuilwijk.com

Anikó Ouweneel is a cultural historian and art curator living in the Netherlands. She has curated Art Stations of the Cross together with Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker. For more see www.visiodivina.eu.

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ON THE WEBSITE   NEW ON THE WEBSITE   NEWS

1. ART ACADEMY OPERATION MOBILISATION - 31 May – 7 June, Art Academy Operation Mobilisation, The Quinta, Weston Rhyn (Oswestry), Shropshire, England: Are you an artist already involved in church, evangelistic ministry or mission? Are you an artist wanting to use your art as a calling and ministry, or wondering how you can use your art to make a difference in society? Then the “Art Academy” is for you! We want to welcome artists across all genres to come together for a week of discovery and growth. The “Art Academy” is designed to expose participants to the many opportunities there are to use their art form for the kingdom and in evangelistic ministry. We will also give an opportunity to explore and deepen our own spiritual journey as artists. Participants will be able to share their experiences and work with a group and take encouragement and inspiration away with them. Cost: £399 (participants from United Kingdom), €395 (participants from the EU and abroad). The cost includes full board accommodation as well as seminar fees. For further information and application form please contact Janice.taylor@om.org or werner.geischberger@om.org. The “Art Academy” is a collaboration between OM UK “ARTreach” and the Arts branch of OM Germany.  

2. SADAO WATANABE - 5 April – 7 June, Inscape Gallery, 12300 Woodinville Redmond Rd NE, Redmond, Washington, USA: Printing the Word: The Art of Watanabe Sadao. This is an exhibit and presentation on the work of Watanabe with Anne Pyle, a leading scholar and former student of Watanabe. She was Watanabe's only private student and owns the largest collection of his work in the world. This is a rare opportunity to enter the art and history of a great artist and an esteemed student who is so thoroughly engaged with his work. Watanabe used biblical images for his work to tell the story of Jesus in the style of the Japanese folk art movement. His work has been displayed and admired around the world. The Closing Conversation will be on June 7 from 7-9 pm. Please join us for the artist reception on April 5, 19 – 21 h, with exuberant appetizers and an amazing adventure in learning about an artist and his student who have been printing the word to tell a story for the people. Mo – Fr 8 am – 5 pm, Sa 11 am – 5 pm, Su 11 am – 4 pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/306490543365664/

3.CALVINISM AND ART - 11 November 2018 – 26 May 2019, Dordrechts Museum, Museumstraat 40, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Work, Pray and Admire: A new view on art and Calvinism. 400 years Synod of Dordt. In 1618/1619, Dordrecht, or Dordt as it was referred to in English at the time, was the center of Calvinist Europe for six months. More than a hundred professors, politicians and clergymen from the Netherlands and abroad met in Dordrecht for a unique church assembly. This Synod of Dordt had far-reaching consequences for the Dutch Republic’s national politics, church life and culture. The Canons of Dordt for instance, were drafted to lay down a strict religious course. It was also decided to order the first official Dutch translation of the Bible, the Statenvertaling (States Translation). The Synod reinforced the position of Calvinism as an institution independent from the state in the Republic all along the line. For more on the Synod, see  http://www.synode400.nl. Starting in the 17th century – the Dutch Golden Age – the Republic’s political elite consisted of Calvinists. They displayed their wealth and social status with large mansions, stylish interiors and splendid art. However, art and Calvinism, do they really match? Calvinism is rather associated with frugality, austerity and thriftiness, whereas art links up with prosperity and luxury. What was the real nature of the relationship between the Calvinists and art? The exhibition Work, pray and admire unravels stereotypes of art and Calvinism and refutes some persistent myths. It reveals the relationship between Calvinism and art in a wider context that includes literature, music and church architecture. Admire the works by painters from the 17th to the 20th century, such as Ferdinand Bol, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Photo and video artist Ahmet Polat introduces a contemporary translation of the notion of Calvinism in our present-day society.

For more exhibitions, lectures, conferences etc. inside and outside your country, click here

ArtWay is a website with resources for congregations and individuals concerned about linking art and faith.

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Other recent meditations:
- April 2019: Ludger Hinse: Crosses of Light
- April 2019: Paul van Dongen: Judgement and Rising
- March 2019: Güler Ates: Water no longer dances with light
- March 2019: Erica Grimm: Salt Water Skin Boats

For more Visual Meditations, see under Artists