FYI: Today’s post contains nudity. If that sort of thing bothers you, today might be a good day to sit things out.
Today’s artist is Ed Knippers. His massive, wall-sized paintings are said to be breathtaking (I’ve yet to have the privilege of seeing them in person). He is a religious painter, in the sense that many of his pieces center on the person and work of Jesus.
The above selection is a painting entitled “Delilah and the Priests,” representing the woman caught in adultery. Note that the priest and the accusers are the ones who are clothed. In Knippers’ work, nudity is often used not to represent innocence, but openness. In other works, the only disciples depicted as clothed are Judas (who betrays) and Thomas (who doubts). Nudity is used to situate Christ and His followers within the real world into which He was incarnated.
The next painting (above) is entitled “The Resurrection of Christ.” Again, note the nude figure of Christ at the center of the painting. As above, the resurrection is depicted as an event that took place within the framework of God’s creation. General revelation (i.e., nature and creation) is certainly not superior to God’s specific revelation (i.e., Christ and the scriptures), but there is a very real sense that one could never understand the one in the absence of the other – without God’s revealed will we would never know the meaning of nature, and without the created world there God’s revealed world would return void from the vacuum.
Speaking on his own work, Knippers himself writes on his website:
“The human body is at the center of my artistic imagination because the body is an essential element in the Christian doctrines of Creation, Incarnation, and Resurrection. Disembodiment is not an option for the Christian. Christ places His Body and His Blood at the heart of our faith in Him. Our faith comes to naught if the Incarnation was not accomplished in actual time and space – if God did not send His Son to us in a real body with real blood.”
Knippers work offers us a view of the embodied presence of the Savior, the very thing we gather to celebrate every year at Christmas.