RELIGIOUS PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS
THIS exhibition of religious
paintings and drawings which Messrs Mowbray had the initia
live to bring into being by instigating a competition, and which the Central Institute of Art and Design judged and organised, is an illuminating eerieience. It shows uncontrovertibly how deep the fissure is between the artist and the Church on the debit side, and ton ate credit side it shows how earneAly the artist is trying to unite, himself once again with the religious I radition. • The question is bow ? Imitations abound. A modem master, such as MatthewSmith, does not despise the imitative way, and using his own flamboyant colours and technique, produces a Last Supper in the wellknawn manner. Adam Kossowski's Jesus Bearing His Cross is a leser Rouauli, Nan Reid's Journey into Jerusalem is a Gauguin, Augustus Lunn's Jacob's Dream is a blend of Blake and Armstrong. Howard Faulkner's Stations of the Cross follow after Gill, and there are countless numbers of minor Stanley Spencers. It is not necessarily a bad thing. especially while one is finding one's way across unfamtliar territory: to follow another's guidance, and some of these imitative pictures have deserved the prizes they wov, but none of them is forging that link which must be forged if the artist and the Church arc to have a right relationship-that is a free relation5hip based on understand
ing of each other's viewpoints. The
Church must he given the confidence by the artist to believe in the artist's integrity of spiritual vision, and the artist must he given the freedom by the Church to work out his spiritual vision in his own way.
WITH the exception of a few paintings, which I shall come back to later, there is nothing in this show to suggest that this mutual confidence
has been established. Most of the work suggests that the artist is sellconacious instead of God-conscious, and that he is trying desperately hard to give the Church the sort of picture it will stand for, while at the same time, being a bit of a devil, by either portraying. Gospel scenes in modern dress or by using a symbolistic technique. The result is that scriptures and dogmas are advertised or displayed -they are not interpreted.
This won't do either as art or as Church workmanship. Something much more vigorous and visionary is called for, and the artist. to be sure of himself, must understand and feel his subject more deeply. That is the first and absolute necessity.
FronT 'this collection three painters 'lid stoke me as thinkers as well as zompetent painters. The first prizewinner for a resurrection subject, Charles Murray. has portrayed a calm. detached, divine. but suffering-marked Christ emerging from the winding sheet of death, which is real and poignant. Michael Ayrton's Christ before Herod and Behold the Man. though stressing the humanity rather than the divinity of Christ, dre nevertheless works of pule art. Felicity Sutton's Conver.ion of St. Paul too, is a highly imaginative conception And it is on works like these three individual *ritual and spirited paintings that the new, free, spontaneous relationship between Church and artist could be
built.-(Leger.) 7. C.