Art and religion has historically massive ties, but contemporary art is looking very agnostic since the fall of modernism the Grand Narratives a few years ago. But in a new series of projects in various venues artists such as Damien Hirst, Bill Viola, Mats Hjelm, Cecilia Parsberg, Poste Restante etc. In London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral art’s former bad boi Damien Hirst will exhibit new paintings called Hope and Salvation. And while an atheist by heart, he has been lurking within the religious question with various works during his career, exploring life and death as it merges with ideology, religion and culture.
In Sweden a recent project in S:t Jacob’s church included talks, installations and performances that used the church space as an extension of the usual white cube neutrality. The result is an awkward but fascinating mix of usual interventions (such as the not yet realized proposal by Mats Hjelm to cover the Jesus figure in black paper, making him appear…well, dark).
Stories of art and the spiritual dates back a long time, Kandinsky and Mondrian were of course pursuing their purification of the spirituality of art although in different forms. Anyway, the story of art and the religious experience still haunts us, whilst the scientists tries to find connections between the two. A book to read on this topic is Lying Awake – Art, Religion and a Brain Disorder by Mark Salzman. It connects these two states of mind in a great way.