Here we quoted the
article - originally displayed at the catalogue exhibition - written
by Rev. Robert Setio, Ph.D., the local committee of that conference.
theologians, painters are also interpreters. What do they interpret?
Do they also interpret God? Just like theologians, the object of interpretation
of painters is never limited. Things and beings that exist in the universe
are the objects of painting for painters. But, painters do not only
have see-able objects, painters may also express their imagination on
the canvas of something unseen. Through their sharp senses, painters
may perceive and interpret even the most abstract objects. Therefore,
spiritual matters, including God, might appear in the works of the painters.
We see in this exhibition
(read: in this pages) some pieces of spiritual paintings. The masters
have tried to express their interpretation of spirituality. But, as
we notice, there are many ways of approaching the theme of spirituality.
Some try to approximate spirituality through religious tradition such
as a narrative from a holy text. But, the others may take a different
road, even, their own and unique road to arrive at the depth of spirituality.
There is no constraint as to how a painter should interpret the delicate
matter. We, however, are expected to agree that spirituality is, indeed,
a broadest issue. God as the main source of spirituality, can be approached
with many different ways, since God is, indeed, infinite.
sometime have to learn from painters that imposing a confinement on
the interpretation of God (by which I mean theology), is impossible,
if not unnecessary. Theologians, in their hardest effort in deciphering
God, can one time be trapped in their own understanding and come into
conclusion that God is no more than what they have understood of God.
No wonder if in the end there is a feeling of strandedness.
No more development and no more excitement for comprehending the meaning
of the presence of God. As if, theology has been completed and any talk
of it is no other than a repetition. Worse than that, any different
thought would be regarded apostasy, even blasphemy. When this happens,
we should take the wisdom of the painters that there is no certain way
for interpreting the wonder of God.
Our conference theme:
"Visioning New Life Among Asian Religions", invites us to,
once more, discern life. But, what is new life, anyway? Is not life
forever constant? Yes, life may be the same since the beginning of time,
but, the meaning of life may not always be the same. The meaning of
life may and should vary from time to time and from place to place.
Humanity is always called to give life a new meaning. The existence
of the new meaning of life is, even, a proof of the existence of life
itself. Since to live is actually to give a new meaning of anything,
even of things that look so ordinary. We should never stop in producing
new meaning of life. Because, when we stop doing that we will find our
life dull. And, at this point we are loosing life. The crisis that has
hit Asia lately, has created multi dimensional problems. This is at
least true from Indonesian perspective. We live in an era where death
is threatening us stronger than ever. But, let us not be afraid. Let
us show that we prefer life than death, by doing the process of giving
life a new meaning. And, since life is never privatized, rather, it
belongs to everyone. Let us seek the new life in a spirit of togetherness,
especially, among Asian religions (hopefully this pluralism will include
The paintings will
accompany us to reflect on life throughout the conference. They also
encourage us to always seek and share new life. Just like the masters,
let us produce "a theological painting" with a spirit of freedom,
creativity, imaginativeness, and subtle sensitivity. Let us paint our
"canvas", that is, Asia in crisis as well as Asia in a global
world with colorful images according to the richness of our cultures