ASPECTS OF CHRIST

by BOB JONES

Six Panels Based on Aspects of Christ's Character

The idea behind this set of six panels is to explore some aspects of the theological character of Christ in a way that refers to the world's artistic expression in pattern. My ideas are a personal response to what I have seen and not an academic study. This is to give a sense of Christ's involvement in the whole world and that all individuals have culturally based responses to the message of God. The panels are not meant to be interpreted in one particular way but as a visual place to wander and meditate on the Incarnation. They were designed to be seen as a sequence starting with Christ as the Shepherd and moving through to Christ the Water of Life as a place of meditation leading to Christ the Light of the World. What I have written about my own artistic journey is only to give some clues to help those who look at the paintings. I hope that individuals will read and saver the images with interpretations that are their own.

PANEL ONE

CHRIST THE SHEPHERD   AFRICA

The pattern work on the side edges of this panel is referencing some

 designs from Yoruba carvings. Somecarvings are placed on doors to

 important buildings andthis panel stands at the beginning of the series as

opening onto the whole six panel meditation. The themeof this painting is the

 care of Christ for the places wherepeople live as represented by the

 buildings, land and thewater. The imagery uses patterns from a range of

cultural traditions in the African continent decoratingvarious buildings old

 and new, ancient cultural roots tocontemporary life. The hands and arms of

 the weepingChrist as he looks over the city recalling the eventrecorded in

 the Gospel are in a style that is meant to echo some Coptic illustrations.

PANEL TWO

CHRIST THE TREE OF LIFE    THE AMERICAS

Drawing on imagery from the Americas the central idea here is the rain forest as representing the abundant growth of Christ's creativity in the lives of people. The abundant variety and growth of the rain forest grows on shallow soil as the love of God produces abundance in the experience of people and the great buttress rooted trees are a symbol of the mighty strength and resource that is in Christ. The pattern work around the edge is drawn from the woodland bag patterns of the North American Indians. In the forest floor is a Mexican head of a depiction of death recalling Christians' belief that Christ's triumph over death was achieved in his resurrection. The crosses dispel the darkness and light breaks through. The snake like pattern taken from a building from Maya culture is meant to recall The Fall and the Garden of Eden. The thorns are another depiction of the wounds of Christ.

PANEL THREE

CHRIST THE BREAD OF LIFE  AUSTRALASIA

This panel and the panel depicting Christ the True Vine refer to the Eucharist and are placed each side of the altar. It draws on the pattern work and imagery from the Pacific. The patterns around the outside of the panel are from treasure boxes made by Maori craftsmen with the inference that, as in the parable, here is Christ the treasure that is worth giving all you have for. The bread, the body of Christ, is given to the receiving people and the body of Christ is wounded by the spear using a simple piece of Aboriginal line drawing. For the Aboriginal people the land is often the basis of their work depicted by very personal symbols which speak of the central importance the land has for them, as Christ is central for Christians. The spear pierces the body of Christ; his body is broken. 

PANEL FOUR

CHRIST THE TRUE VINE  EUROPE

Here the way that Christians celebrate the Eucharist is represented by depicting the chalice with a background of street paving often found in the cities of Europe to give the idea of Christ walking and being part of the every day routine of people's lives. Also the mosaic is meant to invoke the connections with the Byzantine mosaics in places such a Ravenna. The chalice echoes Art Deco pieces recalling Europe's design tradition. Border patterns are taken from Celtic and other devotional manuscripts. The nails piercing the design, the third depiction of the wounds of Christ, are meant to connect with Grunewald's Isenheim altar and its dramatic and expressive depiction of the agony of Christ on the cross. The colours move up from dark shades through the olive leaves of hope to the light of the living vine at the top of the panel, the triumph of life over death through the blood of Christ.


PANEL FIVE


CHRIST THE WATER OF LIFE  ASIA

The reference to water as a central image in Christian belief is focused on in this panel. It has a more open and sparse quality and is attempting to echo the style of clean lines and use of space in the traditions of some artists from Asia. Gardens and buildings may present a language of balance, calm and mental readiness and at the end of this journey through the panels it is a place of reflection and peace. Even so there are different representations of water: the calm of the river, the power of the sea. The border influenced by Chinese ceramic designs also picks up the theme of water. In this place of meditation there is a depiction of a broken tree reminding the viewer of the suffering of Christ and the ongoing pain of humanity. The fish reminds believers of the eternal presence of Christ.

PANEL SIX

CHRIST THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD   ARCTICA AND ANTARCTICA

The shapes and patterns in this painting are taken from the north and southern extremes of the planet and the aurora borealis and aurora australis. The painting uses the drama of the shapes to suggest that after the meditation in the last panel there is the possibility of deep union with God. The colour and nature of this would be infinitely variable and vibrant beyond what is known and moving into brilliance. The central golden area uses shapes based on aerial photos of the earth's atmosphere. They also refer to the sculpture 'Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by Gianlorenzo Bernini'. The mystic's heart is speared by spiritual fire, the complex folds of her clothing emphasising the ecstatic power of her experience. The pure light of Christ illuminates all in the knowledge and union with the beauty of God.

Bob Jones (artist).

Also by Bob Jones St Joseph with the child Jesus

St Anthony of Padua

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St Peter's Catholic Church, Carronbridge Rd, Swindon SN5 7ES