Bali Christian Art Association - Exhibition 2003

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 on high… (Hebrew 1:1-3).

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 century.

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 humanity.

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 resurrection.

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 with him.

(this article is presented at the second exhibition of BCAA, on August 16 to September 16, 2003)


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