Contemplation on Jesus's Figure: A Perspective through Spirituality of Aesthetics in the Experience of Vulnerability

Contemplation on Jesus's Figure: A Perspective through Spirituality of Aesthetics in the Experience of Vulnerability

PAN Yi Jung

In the practice of Christian Art, the expression of body was often categorized in the scope of the physical figure. Many authors and Christian artists have tried to integrate faith and art into spiritual practice and formation. Moreover, some Christian scholars used historical research approach to describe the development of visual art in the church history in order to reflect on the dimension of spirituality in artworks. This essay attempts to employ the approach of practical theology to explore Jesus's vulnerable figure from a contemplative perspective. The exercise of contemplation on Jesus's vulnerability not only can be articulated in words but also can be experienced from an aesthetic perspective. It means that the aesthetic perspective is formulated by both the spiritual appreciation of artworks and the exercise of contemplative painting.

In this essay, three famous pieces of artworks on Jesus's vulnerable figure were interpreted from a contemplative perspective: The Virgin of Vladimir, the Christ of Saint John of the Cross, and the Pietà. Then, theological reflection was drawn by my contemplative appreciation on these artworks as well as by my personal resonating with Jesus's life and suffering in the human body.

After introducing the spiritual meaning of each of these famous artworks, there follows a description of a piece of my contemplative paintings. The three pieces of my creative paintings were created after my contemplating on these three famous artworks. However, I gave new titles to my creative works: The Gentle and Compassionate Mother, The Passion, and The Compassion. My contemplation on these artworks was made during the Lent in 2021, with Jesus's passion and compassion as the main themes. By painting, I contemplated on the vulnerability of Jesus's figure and acquired new insight into His passion and compassion. Through the re-interpretation of Jesus's vulnerable figure in my artistic expression, His vulnerability became a window which could draw a practitioner toward God's presence, grace and love.

The essay concludes that contemplative interpretation on the vulnerability of human body from an aesthetic perspective can become a view of the theological reflection on humanity and bring transformative experience of God's mercy and love to the practitioner.

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