Revista Studii Teologice


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Regăsirea personală a Tradiţiei şi Revelaţiei în creaţia artistică oglindită în scrierile Părintelui Dumitru Stăniloae

The personal encounter with tradition and revelation in art creation, according to Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae

Autor(i): Marian VASILE

One of the many aspects addressed by Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae in his writings is the relationship between the personal freedom of the art creator and the conformity or obedience presupposed by Christian spirituality. The personality of a creator artist and his attitude towards tradition and revelation have been discussed, irrespective whether the the creative act pertains to the realm of the sacred or that of the profa-ne. The act of creation is sared due to the fact that God Himself is the supreme Ar-tist. Like the Holy Fathers, the earliest apologists stressed the aesthetic character of world’s creation. God is a great artist, making the world as a magnificent work of art, according to a preestablished plan, down to the most minute details. The very process of creation is a work of art. In his turn, man is a creator constantly seeking new ideas, creativity being a manifestation of creative freedom. Throughout the history of mankind, artists have attempted to achieve immortality through fame, by signing their works. Most of them never grasped the fact that each person is the creator of its own existence, participating in the others’ existence and at the same time deeply involved in the existence of the entire world, thus leaving their imprint on the me-mory of mankind. With this struggle for achieving „godliness” in its human version, Western artists sought emancipation from tradition while Western religious art saw a succession of styles. Western Christian art borrowed from all the styles of each period of time, accepting all of them with hardly any discernment. It thus lost its own identi-ty, and this phenomenon has been perpetuated to the present day, when sacred art is expected to employ all artistic means available.
The desire to find new things to differentiate an artist from his predecessors in not to be blamed in itself, but often we forget that the universe does not begin with man or from man. Man has lost his capacity as a master of the world, because he thought that the world has no mystery left, but actually has exhausted it. From his dignity as a master of the world, man has lowered himself to the level of merely material perception of the world. Despite all the changes entailed by his fall, the creative man still sought to elevate himself above the world, and his fellow people too. He was driven by his thirst for fame, often equated with immortality. For fear of being disregarded, certain such people declared they preferred to be criticized and disliked, rather than ignored. As for originality, it seemed easier to deny the achie-vements of the previous style than to adopt and renew some of its principles. Thus in the history of Western art, every newly emerged style attempted to deny the prece-ding one, and overthrow the previous rules. Paradoxically, in the 20th century when art gained the prestige it had always sought, the death of art also occurred. Instead of looking within themselves for an inexhaustible source of artistic expression, the contemporary artist prefers to strain the means of expression.
Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae points out that in contrast to the Western stance, Or-thodoxy deems every person to be unique and unrepeatable; the originality of every artist is grounded in this fact and not in a brutal denial of principles. Especially in the case of sacred art, the calling of an icon painter imparts a quasi-sacramental role, as Christian life cannot be separated from art life. Genuine originality, so important to art, does not necessarily entail rebellion against the past in order to overthrow it, but rather persoal development within Tradition.
We should bear in mind that the art of icon is a living one, always renewing the forms of expressing tradition, like a spring that never dries up, and that obser-ving the canon actually means finding the Truth, the life-giving source. Observance is not lack of personality; such view would be a return to monothelitism, as if Christ were deprived of a will of His own, while on the contrary it is precisely observance that lends personality. The controversies over the relationship between artist’s fre-edom and tradition stemmed from the Roman-Catholic tenet of the relationship between human freedom and divine grace, which can be hardly reconciled with ex-clusively rational arguments. According to Orthodox spirituality, however, the Myste-ry of the Holy Eucharist can reconcile two seemingly opposite situations: freedom and obedience. There is no opposition between grace and freedom, since the Holy Eucha-rist elevates man to the ultimate dignity of the person, that of self-giving to the Father for the sake of the fellow-people, together with Christ, as Fr. Dumitru Stăni-loae pointed out. To those unfamiliar with the Byzantine artistic and religious life, the icon painter as described by most writings is a rigid individual bound by age-old ca-nons. Unfortunately the proponents of this view, genuinely scanalized by the „lack of liberty” of Byzantine artists, failed to understand (and could not understand) that man can collaborate freely with divine grace. An icon painter is not a tool unconscio-usly replicating tradition. Like priests, he administers the mystery of the icon. Thus a necessary premise for a genuinely artistic act is the comprehension that every man has his own path to follow, but this path is in, with and towards Christ, not in a pseu-do-liberty bringing about anarchy. As far as revelation is concerned, it lies not so much in an amount of theoretical knowledge, but in a personal relationship, that is, a living one, a constant personal advancement towards the truth that is fully reached in the relationship between man and both God and his fellow people.
According to Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae, man is never at a rest in his relationship with God and his neighbours. The Holy Mysteries enable man to transcend not the created order, from one level to another, but to transcend the created order and reach the uncreated Absolute. We can be fulfilled as persons only in communion with a superior personal being, which can reveal its fullness and grant us fulfillment only by maintaining a continuously renewed relationship, and not by reducing man to a passive object. The human person remains free in its relationship with this superior Person, a relationship analogous to that between a human person and another hu-man person, while both retain their freedom. Closeness to God achieved through the Holy Mysteries stresses man’s quality as a unique person, never losing its worth, released from the passions that depersonalize human nature. If the mystery of the person were understood, the fact that the person is the greatest mystery of existence, then the mystery of the relationship between creativity-tradition would no longer hinder the comprehension of the mystery of creation. We conclude that the truly artistic creation cannot be achieved by rebellion against nature, or in complete isolati-on either.

Pagini: 189-206