ART AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATING
Rev. Em. Yatma Pramana
The following thoughts are recommended material so that readers,
together, may understand and develop topics related to art and
the Gospel. In my opinion, The BALI CHRISTIAN ART ASSOCIATION
(BCAA) does not intend to clarify these topics by hosting this
exhibition. This exhibition is more about challenging viewers
to experience the communication of the Gospel through the artwork.
1. The essence of the Gospel or the good news is that God came
to earth to live among people with the purpose to save the world
through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2. The Gospel came from outside the human experience because
the maker and source of the Gospel is God alone. He came to earth
as a human being, so that people might know Him. "In the
beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word
was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John
1:1 and 14) Indeed God has used many ways to make himself known,
but the fullest way was to become human like us. "In many
and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets;
but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed
the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,
upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made
purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty
3. God is known by his work. He took the form of a human being,
Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus Christ lived
in the context of Jewish culture and two thousand years ago. The
Jewish context itself has a long history, with events as early
as Abraham and later the exodus from Egypt.
4. The Gospel is wrapped in the history and culture of Abraham's
descendants who make up the nation of Israel or, more precisely,
the Jews. From its place of origin - Jerusalem and the nation
of Canaan - the Gospel spread to the east in India, to the north
as far as Russia, and to Europe in the west. The spread of the
Gospel, in reality, constituted a process in which the 'wrappings'
changed. As the Gospel spread, it was adapted to its local ethnic
context until it entered Indonesia and Asia. The European culture
and context in which the Gospel was wrapped began from the sixteenth
5. The Gospel or Christianity first appeared in the Indonesian
Archipelago in the Moluccas islands in 1512 with the arrival of
the Portuguese who were accompanied by Roman Catholic missionaries.
The Indonesian Archipelago was later influenced by the Dutch through
the VOC or Dutch East India Company, whose power began to penetrate
in 1602. from the Malukus, this Calvinist Protestant Christianity
spread to the west through Timor to Jakarta, and even to Taiwan
and Sri Lanka. The history of the spread of the Gospel is briefly
related here with the intent of showing the momentum that was
established in the development of Christianity in Indonesia and
Asia. In fact, the spread of Christianity was through rather rational
and dogmatic teachings about Jesus Christ. This emphasis aimed
to three aspects of Christian teaching. For personal faith, the
Christian holds the responsibility for all things related to salvation.
Secondly, salvation primarily relates to the spiritual aspect
of the person. Finally, there is an emphasis on life beyond death.
To be a Christian one must accept these three emphases. The social
and cultural context of Indonesia was ignored. In other words,
Christianity was spread in the wrappings of European culture,
specifically that of the Dutch.
6. The conference of the World Council of Churches and Missions
Council which was held in Bangkok on December 29, 1972 through
January 12, 1973 made churches and Christians aware of the importance
of culture in the life of the church and of the Christian. The
word 'salvation' is translated from the word "shalom"
which refers to salvation in a holistic sense.
2. The holistic context relates to all cultural aspects as outcomes
of human knowledge and capacity. Imagination results in works
which are primarily concerned with aesthetics. This artistic capacity
emerges in many forms, such as painting, music, dance, and literature.
3. The Bible itself contains art. The book of Psalms, for example,
consists of poems and songs, The Song of Solomon and many other
books and letters in the New Testament make use of literature
and stories. Two-thirds of the Old Testament and one-third of
the New Testament use story forms. Stories themselves constitute
'painting with words.' The goal is to describe the relationship
and communication that exists between humanity and God. The Word
of God uses the power of art to bring to life communication with
4. The Bali Christian Art Association (BCAA) exhibition at this
time concerns painting. I believe that the members of BCAA intend
to convey the communication which exists between their experience
of the Gospel. The exhibited paintings invite viewers to communicate
and dialogue with the source of the Gospel: God himself in Jesus
Christ. This dialogue can produce faith in God. Faith is not just
about words and ideas. It can materialize in the context of the
here and now. This faith focuses not only on the historical Jesus
Christ but also on the 'present' Christ who works through the
hands of humanity.
5. When someone meditates on art or simply enters the art environment,
many questions emerge, even questions of an introspective nature.
Personal identity may even be called into question. Some may take
offence, but often is the case that people find new paths in life
and perhaps a new and more authentic identity.
6. The word "communication" is associated with the
word "communion", which means establishing fellowship.
Art, especially paintings by BCAA members, I believe, has a purpose
of creating togetherness or fellowship with God. Further, communion
suggests the "holy communion," through which we are
reminded of the experience of our union with Christ's death and
7. The salvation granted by God through Jesus Christ who came
to earth prevails now and forever. He wants to be present and
be united with us in every thing which God has granted with grace.
Communication of the Gospel will bring people closer to God and
to others. God allows all kinds of art to build a means of communication
to enable Him to be united with His people. God wants to use all
branches of art to build arenas of dialog, communication and fellowship
(this article is presented at the second exhibition of BCAA,
on August 16 to September 16, 2003)