CONTEMPORARY ART AND CHRISTIANITY. HERESIES, CHALLENGES AND SPIRITUAL SEARCHES (Laikmetiga maksla un kristietiba. Keceribas, izaicinajumi un gariga meklejumi)
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In the 20th century many artists have created both artworks for religious purposes and commissioned by the church as well as works depicting Christian motifs or influenced by them but not directly intended for display in sacred premises. Classical examples reveal the significance of this subject and motifs in modernists' works; a growing interest in this field is evident since the 1980s. From the viewpoint of means and messages these artworks are of the widest possible scope - from decorative compositions to openly shocking works that have created wide-range scandals and made to discuss the current value judgements. Interpretations of Christian motifs, including those considered heretic and blasphemous by the church authorities, have been most influential in culture products like visual arts, literature, theatre, cinema, music; they are used many times as allegorical references to stress topical themes or problematic issues and values. Such works that have earned excellent reputation or are highly popular and recognised in the cultural context, have often been criticised by the church and traditionally oriented Christians mainly because of violating Christian canons and important principles of Christian iconography or way of expression. In Latvia the most interesting reflections on Christianity in contemporary art are related to the sacred space where the basic tenets of Christian canon and message are respected, transgressing the accepted boundaries of expression and creativity. The most widely known precedents are Sarmite Malina's and Kristaps Kalns' video installation 'Altarpiece' at St. Mary Magdalene's Catholic Church in Riga in Easter 2006, and Helena Heinrihsone's altarpiece for the Kolka Lutheran Church painted in 1993. Assuming that tradition has a special authority in sacred art, Catholic Church strongly holds to the idea that a Christian artist's point of reference could not be contemporary culture. Compared to the traditional attitude of the Catholic Church, Protestant sacred art is more intellectualised and visually abstracted. The issue of 'images' is also the most complex issue not just in the crossing of art and church but also inside the church, being the cause of disagreements and diverging opinions of different confessions.
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