Believing In The Beautiful

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In an interview exploring the intersection of faith and art in her work, the painter Dominique Ovalle ponders our suspicion of beauty:

There is a tendency for some people to sneer at beauty or to revile it, because it is so attractive and magnetic. That makes it untrustworthy to fearful people. If people have been let down before—by life or the actions of others—there may be a tendency to mistrust things that appear to be good. It is hard to swallow that some things are good, beautiful, and true. Hans Urs von Balthasar said, “We can be sure that whoever sneers at [beauty’s] name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past—whether he admits it or not—can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.” When people do encounter something pure and beautiful, they have an opportunity to accept it, to believe it. That is the pivotal moment: when art meets life, when it meets reality, when it meets you and me. That’s where the conversation is.

She described the painting featured above, “The Deposition,” this way:

This year I figured out that I’ve spent over 1,228 hours in churches, most of which was spent contemplating the art. This is my contribution to the tradition of illustrating the events in Christ’s life. This painting depicts a moment following the death of Christ, when His body has been taken down from the cross, and His spirit enters into hell. I hope this painting may add some spiritual insight into who Christ was– and of the beauty of his message, miracles, and good works; as well as the suffering and loneliness that he experienced during His time on earth.

See more of Ovalle’s art here.