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The beauty in seemingly insignificant things is opened for us by the artist’s eye. Abraham Kuyper

Romanian Folk Art: Jesus Christ the Wine Press

ArtWay Visual Meditation 25 April 2021

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Romanian Folk Art: Jesus Christ the Wine Press

Devotion in Cartoon Style

by Wim Eikelboom

In my childhood I sometimes became confused by all those metaphorical images about Jesus. At one time he was living water, another bread or a lamb and yet another time the good shepherd. Here we see a fifth metaphor on a somewhat damaged, old Romanian glass icon from the nineteenth century that hangs in our home.

Glass icons are painted on the back of a glass plate (behind glass painting). On this painting Jesus is central as the true vine. That is derived from the words in John’s Gospel 15:1, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.”

On this icon the metaphor of the true vine has been literally elaborated: from Jesus’ side emerges a vine branch on which luscious bunches of grapes are growing. And then, in a cartoon-like fashion, it continues with the next step of the harvested grapes. Wine is made from it. On the left Jesus presses the grapes and catches the wine in a large jug or chalice. 

In the Christian tradition wine is the symbol for the shed blood of Jesus, who gave his life on the cross of Golgotha. At the Last Supper Jesus himself spoke these words when he poured the wine: “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20).

The almost naked Christ figure dressed in a robe of death sits on a grave tomb, yet another reference to his death. The cross in the background reinforces this even more. The icon is called ‘Jesus Christ the Wine Press’ or The Mystical Wine Press’ in which the essence of the eucharist is expressed. In the Eastern-Orthodox and Roman-Catholic traditions the wine is believed to change into the blood of Christ during the celebration of the eucharist. This pictogram on glass captures the mysterious transubstantiation in an image. 

The most common versions of this image are fitted with a simple wooden frame and have adorned many a Romanian living room as a devotional picture, to worship Jesus and to thank him for his suffering and redemptive work.

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Jesus Christ the Wine Press, glass icon, 34 x 38 cm in wooden frame. Folk art from Oltenia, in South-West Romania, ca. 1850.

Wim Eikelboom (1968) is a Dutch journalist, art lover, and chairman of ArtWay. In daily life he works as an independent media professional for various media.

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IN VIEW

1. ARTWAY – New blog: Photographing Religious Practice by Jonathan Evens. “There are many ways in which the return of religion, following its claimed ‘death rattle’ in the face of secularisation, has been noted within the arts. One such is the increasing prevalence of photographic series and books exploring aspects of religious practice.” Read more

2. PERSONAL CHRISTIAN IMAGERY OF KEITH HARING – Jonathan Evens on ArtLyst: Keith Haring: Personal Spiritual Imagery. “Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, some of the imagery and many of the approaches that Haring adopted in life and art may derive from time spent during his teens with the Jesus People. Julia Gruen, Haring’s former studio assistant, has since his death in 1990 served as executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation. She has said that he “cared very deeply about the role that religion plays in peoples’ lives” despite experiencing first-hand “the negative counterpart of that—the way authoritarian, dogmatic philosophies of various religions harm the very people who perhaps could benefit most from faith.” Religion was “omnipresent” in his work, she says, and he was ‘a spiritual person’.” Read More

3. COVENTRY CATHEDRAL – 29 April, 19 h, online: Art within Cathedrals lecture series 2021. Coventry Cathedral: Icon and Inspiration. The extraordinary story of the rebuilding of the Cathedral as a symbol of peace and reconciliation and its inspiring commitment to the modern.   https://www.artandchristianity.org/education-events

4. SPIRITUALITY AND ABSTRACTION IN POST-WAR EUROPE - 21 April – 31 July, Hanina Fine Arts, 21 Woodstock St, Mayfair, London: Spirituality & Abstraction in post-war Europe. In light of the recent re-appraisal of Hilma af Klint’s spiritualist paintings in the history of abstract art, this exhibition explores the prevalence of spirituality in post-war abstraction. The influence of "occult" theosophy and esoteric thought upon pioneers of abstract art in the early twentieth century such as Kandinsky, Kupka, Malevich and Mondrian has been almost erased from modern art history. But it is evident that theosophist writings such as Annie Besant & Charles Leadbeater's "Thought Forms" (1901), and "Man Visible & Invisible" (1902), along with the teachings of their protégé Rudolf Steiner, were fundamental to these artists' motivations, in giving expression to the spiritual dimension and manifesting the "universal mystery" through art. This exhibition looks at how spirituality continued to be an important source of inspiration for artists in the post-war years. Other artists in the exhibition include Georges Collignon, Emile Gilioli, Marcel Pouget, and Léon Zack. Mo – Fr, 10 – 18 h, Sa by appointment. http://www.haninafinearts.com/exhibitions/spirituality-and-abstraction --- Read more

5. LECTURE HANS ROOKMAAKER PLUS INTRODUCTION BY BYRNE POWER

  

Hans Rookmaaker: The Four Points of Scholarship - Knowledge & Communication (L'Abri Lecture) Polanyi

The title The Four Points of Scholarship may sound like a dull affair. But this is Rookmaaker. His lectures are never dull. This lecture is about uncertainty...

https://youtu.be/hbfZAR-bejs

6. SUMMER SCHOOL OPPORTUNITY: SITES, OBJECTS, AND PRACTICES OF HOPE – An exciting educational opportunity has been announced by the University of Groningen, a member of the Network for Religious Heritage. This summer school program allows students to dive into the world of religious heritage, focusing on past, present and future. They will meet with experts from museums, universities, faith communities and religious heritage professionals and learn about the role of heritage in musealisation, multifunctional use of religious buildings and the life of religious communities. The program will take place from 23-27 August in Amsterdam, NL and include visits to Groningen. The application deadline is June 1. Read more

7. PILGRIMAGE QUICKSCAN LAUNCHED IN THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch programme Toekomst Religieus Erfgoed (Future Religious Heritage), part of the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Agency), has developed a new study known as "The Pilgrimage Quickscan" which examines pilgrimage routes in order to gain insight into the use of local religious heritage combined with pilgrimage. The research was conducted by FRH member, Miranda Megens, who further developed a model which may be used by organisations in the field of religious heritage and tourism, to create a new route or expand, or strengthen an existing route. The aim of this is to support religious heritage in (re)opening their doors. This study is now available online on the organisations' website. Read more

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:
- May 2021: Norman Burkett: Frits de Zwerver
- April 2021: Raphael: The Charge of Christ to Peter
- April 2021: Hong Song-Dam: Resurrection
- April 2021: Father John B Giuliani: Compassionate Christ

For more Visual Meditations, see under Artists