"The Indian Church should open its doors to Christian art"

Published: 02 December, 2013 09:38 IST | Fiona Fernandez |

Three questions with Artist Paul B

1. Why the fascination with Christian art? Tell us about your unique style?
I grew up in a family of Anglican pastors and schooled in a Roman Catholic institution. The schism within the same faith was always something that intrigued me. My art is an expression of who I am as a spiritual being. I found my peace each time my eyes peered at a sun laden stain glass church window, or marvelled over the life-like detail of a hand carved icon. What fascinated me was that the hands of a human created these divine forms.
There is a marked Indianess about my Christian icons, in terms of the colour palette and detail. Also, sometimes the narratives tend to incline towards creating a fantasial mythology that Christian art refrained from. My work romanticises the subject of the narrative giving it an almost mythical feel associated as an Indian element.

2. Which icons, events and personalities from the Bible inspire you the most?
The Madonna and Child is one of my favourites. Each time I paint it, it has a different mood and context to my life. I also like painting the life of Christ as I remember it. The resurrected Christ is another powerful icon that finds its depiction at various points in my work. If I ever did get around painting the Passion of Christ, it would be my most emotionally overwhelming work. My work is a personal dialogue between the divine and me. Each work is created in a space of time where I might be seeking guidance or answers from the Divine. My catharsis lies in the ultimate act of creating them.

3. Why would it be beneficial for India’s churches to open their doors to Christian art?
The art of the traditional Christian icon is on the decline. While most modern churches choose to have digitally printed icons on plexiglass, they are not a replacement to a handcrafted icon by an artist. We are unable to document or preserve any of our own Indian Christian icons and often lose them to global collectors who appreciate and value them. There is a strong need to educate and inform the masses of this unique craft. It needs patrons to support and preserve before it’s late. If the church opens its doors to Christian art they will not only create sensitivity towards the genre, but it will also, possibly, help them to understand the significance in preserving it.

Till December 9, 11 am to 7 pm
At James Ferreira’s heritage bungalow, 47 G, Khotachiwadi, Girgaum. 

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