In a series of lectures presented at the recent art retreat: Lux Ecclesiae, The Light of the Church, Monsignor Timothy Verdon spoke on the Church’s use of architecture and the visual arts to express its life. In response to a request to speak about how to tie together the Christian art of the past with contemporary abstract sacred art, such as that of Filippo Rossi, Mons Verdon reflected on the history surrounding the emergence of abstract art and its role in Christian expression.
Filippo Rossi, Vento, Wind, 2017.
Following is an excerpt from his talk: “If we say that the main point of Christian art is to tell the gospel story, then you have to have figurative art, you can’t tell a story without figures and the people who support that position will often say, ‘Even the Lord used parables.’ And that’s true, but the Lord used parables for the simple people who, he said, would not understand anything else. And in private he explained to the apostles the deeper meaning of the parables.
The Lord tells people who he really is using completely abstract terms. He is the Light, He is the Way, He is the Truth, He is the Life. How do you represent these things? There’s no figurative way of representing it.
And so Filippo’s objective is to arrive at that deeper more mystical truth that Christ himself speaks. If he calls himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life, he’s not talking about any of the particular miracles or actions of his life. He’s talking about what everything he did on earth opens us to — which is something that, as Isaiah and Paul tell us, no eye has ever seen nor has human ear heard it adequately described. And that’s a challenge that’s worth undertaking — to carry the visual arts to the level of inspired vision.”