Feature: The Art of the True Artist
by Father Felix Pasquin
(Message delivered to the Art Association of Bacolod-Negros on the occasion
A true artist has a profound knowledge of wholeness and it will be betrayal if cultivated through the depreciation of goodness and truth. To violate or even to neglect the moral order and truth for the sake of exalting the autonomy of art is not only arrogance but the very alienation of art. Moral perversion cannot claim aesthetic originality.
The genuine artist of noble character will sense the violation of moral value more keenly than one who is not an artist. To use immoral means in the production or sale of art would be, to him, nothing less than polluting his work. Any effort to manipulate art in the service of the untruth and immorality will outrage his sense of the beautiful as the splendor of goodness and truth.
An artist, who in his own inner harmony with the good and true, is dedicated to the harmony of all values, is God’s masterpiece. A work of art that offends God also offends the Christian. And since it can no longer please and delight, it immediately loses for him all claims to beauty.
It is generally agreed that, historically, art is greatly indebted to religion. It is inspired by the religious sense that has flourished wherever religious experience has been deep and strong. The Christian Churches have been centers of art that have inspired the greatest artists.
The second Vatican Council says, "Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest expressions of human genius. This judgment applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art. By their very nature, both are related to God’s boundless beauty, for this is the reality which these human efforts are trying to express in some way. To the extent that these works aim exclusively at turning man’s thoughts to God persuasively, devoutly, they are dedicated to God and to the cause of his.
A principle has long been confirmed by experts in theology, psychology and history. It is this: human beings become what they behold. Behold beauty and the soul flourishes. Behold the dark and the ugly and life becomes the same.*
(This message is inspired by Moral Theology Professor Bernard Haring)