Tag Archives: Art

The Banksy Christ

capitalism_christ_shopping_bagsThe mysterious undercover graffiti artist Banksy has infiltrated  Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery this week and filled it with more than 100 of his iconoclastic creations. The grand vaulted Georgian galleries more used to hosting  renaissance and impressionist masterpieces now give way to Banksy’s modern, humorous and controversial creations. Visitors to the exhibition, which is free and lasts until August, will be greeted in the foyer by a burnt out ice cream van, the remains of giant melted cornet running down its roof. A dummy riot policeman wearing a balaclava and a badge saying Metropolitan Peace is making his getaway from the carnage on a fairground horse. Exhibits have been infiltrated into the galleries alongside the museum’s own works of art. In one typically Banksian pun Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz are painted on a sheet of rusting iron with a speech bubble saying: “I don’t think we’re on canvas any more.”

There are digs at contemporary culture, including an original Damian Hirst spot painting defaced by a rat with a paint roller. A stencilled picture shows a starving African orphan holding a bucket saying: “Peaches Geldof – please give generously.”

The installations have had a mixed reception. It’s hard to be neutral about Banksy- you love him or hate him. The exhibition made me think of the shock waves that Jesus would have created amongst the religious establishment as he took his parables and teachings to people and place that were frowned upon by the religious establishment of the day. Banksy makes us think about what art is and how it connects with the reality of life, politics, values and popular culture: Jesus does much the same thing in relation to God. He seemed to be out of place in the synagogue and temple- always making shock waves and causing controversy. He also connected through humour, irony, vivid imagery and also kept his identity under wraps for most of his ministry and was hugely popular. Some of our churches have taken on the style and feel of an establishment art gallery and our Banksy Christ seems to have left the building for good. The tragic thing is that some our Christian curators  seem really pleased.

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Gilbert & George..and Jesus

gilbert&georgeYesterday I picked up The Evening Standard and found within a double spread feature with the headline ‘Jesus and an unholy union Jack’. The article covered  the latest piece of controversial iconography from pop artists Gilbert and George. This time they’ve taken a crucified Christ and put him in a union jack lion cloth and halo, and instead of being flanked by thieves, Gilbert and George are  featured clad from head to toe in the Union Jack. The piece is  entitled Christian England. Describing  the inspiration for the work Gilbert says: “We think Christian England is a wonderful  title for a picture, a term that has been forgotten about…we are not Christians we are battling against it…it has caused too many deaths..we don’t believe in damnation.”

It’s hard to know what to make of this exploration of religion and patriotism and, striking though it is, I wonder what impact it will have.  It was interesting to note that the  anti- religious Gilbert and George pointed out their commitment to what I would describe as a central Christian principle. “We belive in our neighbour. That’s about it.”, although in typical ironic G&G form they added, “The main rule is not to beat up your neighbour, unless of course, he likes it.”

So is Jerusalem builded here in England’s green and pleasant land?I don’t think the irony of a Palestinian Jew living out values that we have adopted as Anglo Christian  has escaped some of us.

Christian England is part of a new exhibition of the work of Gilbert and George on show at London’s White Cube Galleries in Hoxton and Mayfair.

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The many faces of Jesus

Last week our church had a great session looking at Jesus and the many faces of him depicted in art and cinematography. We were all asked to select our own favourite picture of him and explain why it appealed to us. As I was reflecting on this I found this great website which looks at the many faces of Jesus check it out at http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/faces_of_jesus/

 Simon Jenkins has also  looked at how you sometimes unexpectedly see a picture in the shapes made by clouds, or a face in a pattern of dots? Some people have been taken by surprise by glimpsing the face of Jesus in wood grain, or a snowy field, or shadows. At this site you can look at some of these strange pictures and the stories behind them.

See http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/module/unexpected_faces/

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