I as listening to the so-called Roman Catholic 'Synod of Synodality' where the fight is to try to bring back the Vatican Council 2 initiatives that recent Popes have almost fully removed. I listened as one of the theologians spoke of 'mystery'. He used the term to refer to a belief that cannot be understood by human intelligence alone. In other words it is irrational. He used the term as a way of ending a conversation. A way of saying that this is the end and we can't go any further. I though how different this is from the way we look at 'mystery' in the arts. In the arts 'mystery' is a way of seducing the person to move beyond it to encounter another presence. Mystery is an invitation not a 'do not pass' indicator. In the context of the synod 'mystery' blocks and pulls the person back to the past in the arts it opens the person to the future..
Spiritual art doesn't have meaning. It has mood which when caught invites you to encounter the presence through its portal. The ensuing dialogue between the two of you, one on this side of time and the other no longer bound by it, will do what is needed.
Curators kill the art by reducing it to explanations, biography, narratives and movements. They are the butchers of the art world killing the art so that they can dissect it for the museum's cafeteria.
Spiritual art is an ambiguous term that can mean anything from art based on an established religion, abstract works that rely on a theory of 'natural' spirituality, to Romantic figurative works from 'super-hero' aesthetics. As in the case of all art, what a piece of art portrays is the personality of the artist and his/her spiritual depth. Spirituality begins with a personal encounter with the reality of one's own death. If there is no visceral encounter with death then the artist is only illustrating some religious or secular ideology about the spiritual. The spiritual is the non-material existence that exists after death but seems to be the force that invades our mortal life. Of course there is no proof that a spiritual world exists other than what we perceive to be spiritual. I have found that some artists have been able to take the images of their religion's mythology and encounter the frontier of death/life but most artists that use their religious mythology only produce propaganda and kitsch. The abstracted art that is said to be spiritual are based on the spirituality that arose out of the late 19th and early 20 centuries and owe as debt to R. Steiner and H. Blavatsky. Many of the art works that say they come out of this type of non-sectarian 'natural' spirituality are little more than wall paper because the artist has not viscerally encountered death through his/her art. Again what is expressed is the artist's soul/personality. Spiritual art should take a 'prepared audience' to the encounter with death. In this case there will be either of two experiences. The artist and the audience will either experience a feeling of mystery and presence or a feeling of non-presence and the eternal void.
Theology is based on the particular mythologies and traditions of past and present groups and has been used to separate us rather than unite us as a species. I feel that the only moral use of theology is to free people from the traditions that separate them from others.Technology has raised the possibility of our species' extinction and traditions that separate us are now lethal for all of us. Those elements in religions that are helpful are already encased in and originated in our humanities.We are birthing a new global and species-wide epoch and need visions to guide us. Visions are the fantasies of artists and materialize possible futures. At the beginning of epochs we need prophets and so we paint, write,make music,dance,propose theories, etc. We are creating new horizons. We are living in a time of epiphanies.
For me the most important aspect of post-modern thought is the rejection of worldviews that do not hold up under the light of critical thinking or have become irrelevant to the needs of the contemporary world. We are in a period when the old mythologies that were ( and in some places still are ) the basis for cultural values, norms, and social identities are being eroded by advances in the sciences, the availability of education, globalization, and the deconstructionist mind set of the twentieth century. For the first time in human history we are becoming aware that there is more that unites us than divides us. We are developing a new ontological ground from which to address the ancient questions of our species: 'What are we', 'Do we have a purpose', 'Is there anything after this life'. For me these questions lie hidden in our bio-psych-social journey not in the superstitions of the past. Art starting from this new horizon will be how we re-image ourselves and set the path for the continuation of the human journey.