Art is a beautiful medium of communication when words fall short to convey a message. And indeed, it can go beyond the boundaries of the spoken or written word in a way that is powerful.
Sacred Catholic art for one is a powerful medium that, in a majestically beautiful way, speaks of the Gospel.
Aspiring to revive religious art that once adorned Catholic churches, Brother Edgardo Campos, FSF (Friars of St. Francis) creates art that would speak of the Bible to Christians.
Centuries back, early Christians were catechized using pictures or images because most of them were illiterate. Paintings spoke thousands of words that verbal or written communication cannot convey. Through paintings the Word of God was taught.
“During the time when Christians were not able to read the Church helped them understand the mysteries through paintings,” Argentinian Brother Edgardo Campos told The Sunday Times Magazine at the sidelines of his Nativity scenes exhibit in Makati early December.
According to him, the good news has to be absorbed into the soul through all human senses—through songs, through sacraments and even visuals like paintings.
“We are trying to recover [sacred art]because we think it is a best way to integrate the Liturgy to our emotions [as human beings],” Campos explained.
“Through sacred art and tradition we integrate our emotions, our feelings, our humanity into the mystery of the Liturgy through art, through our senses,” he continued.
As the Catholic Liturgical calendar nears the Christmas season—which begins on Christmas Day and ends on the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus—Campos’ sacred art works featuring the story of Christmas are on display at the Yuchengco Museum at RCBC Plaza in Makati.
Titled Nativity Scenes and Symbols: A Collection of Religious Art Paintings, the showcase features visual translations of the story of the birth of Christ based on the Holy Bible.
“You do not need to go to the book, you can just look at the image,” he said.
Inspired by Byzantine style art used in Churches during early Christendom, Campos’ work has a lot of gold, red and blues.
“I used gold acrylic to portray daylight. In a theological perspective there is no darkness. Because God has expelled darkness,” he detailed.
Campos further noted all his paintings stay true to Biblical accounts on the Nativity.
“There are plenty of messages; it is very Biblical and it is catechesis,” he expounded.
Campos said religious paintings are more than just pictures or art. It is a form of meditation through the sense of sight. By looking and appreciating this art people immerse themselves into the Gospel, into the mystery of faith.
“Salvation comes to us through our senses,” he intoned.
However, Campos said the tradition on sacred art is slowly dissipating as modern Churches tend to be more minimalistic in their approach.
“Churches nowadays tend to have no paintings like these,” he said.
The Franciscan brother said it is important to revive the tradition of Christian Art because it is also a way for people to absorb the Gospel.
“Appreciating Sacred Art is a form of meditation [on holiness],” he stressed.