To Lift Our Spirits: Inspiring Art
CARAVAN Board Member and Founding President Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler shares his top pick.
Georges Rouault, Twilight, 1937, Oil on canvas, 66 × 99.4 cm
"Georges Rouault (1871-1958) was one of the few modern artists whose work was clearly religious,” says William Dyrness, the author of Seeing through the Darkness, about the French artist’s spiritual vision. A painter, draughtsman, and printer, whose work is often associated with Fauvism and Expressionism, Rouault was a life-long Roman Catholic, but his work was anything but Christian in the traditional sense. Rouault found little attraction in the various art movements of his day, but worked believing that art flowed out of an interior life. And with this steadfast vision before him, he relied more and more on his faith to guide his art making.
Rouault was apprenticed in his youth to a stained-glass firm, and this influence is vividly seen throughout his work, with the black outlines that encased his figures and images, much as in a medieval stained-glass window. Like in stained-glass windows, he grew to have a "passionate taste" for their colors, finding refuge in them.
A keen observer of life, Rouault’s work is distinct from the conventional creative forces of his time. He seemed to live and work from a different sense of time and calling. His paintings are a portal into ages past, and then, magically, invite us into a journey toward our future.
Rouault's works are an affirmation of the light that lay behind the darkness. The sun or moon in the horizon, are often depicted in Rouault paintings, such as in Twilight, one of the mystical works he painted between 1929 and 1939. In Twilight, my eyes gravitate up toward the moon in the sky, as if Rouault is attempting to force back the darkness, giving light a chance to shine in the midst of darkness, thereby connecting us the sacred.
This painting is held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Rev Paul-Gordon Chandler is the Founding President of CARAVAN, an international peacebuilding NGO that uses the arts to build sustainable peace around the world. He is an author, peacebuilder, art curator and a U.S. Episcopal priest. An authority on the Middle East and North Africa and the Abrahamic religions, he has lived and worked in the Middle East and North Africa for many years. He grew up in Senegal, West Africa, and has served in executive leadership roles around the world with the Episcopal / Anglican Church, faith-based publishing and relief & development agencies. From 2003-2013 he was the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cairo, Egypt, and he is a Canon at All Saints’ Cathedral, Cairo, Egypt. He is currently based in Doha, Qatar, as rector of The Anglican Church of Qatar (The Church of the Epiphany & The Anglican Centre). The author of several books, his most recent book is titled “IN SEARCH OF A PROPHET: A Spiritual Journey with Kahlil Gibran,” which focuses on the all-embracing spirituality of the early 20th century Lebanese born poet-artist and mystic, Kahlil Gibran, the author of The Prophet, presenting him a much-needed guide for our time.
More information can be found on the author website: www.paulgordonchandler.com.