Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook/Random: Reading The Rule of Saint Benedict; Asian Christian Art; Stolen Art

Still sick. Unable to sleep more than an hour at a time between my throbbing head and other special effects from this mild flu. Blech. Still had to take care of some business for my Theology Through the Centuries students for today, and so I'm typing some stuff up for them, along with instructions as we turn to reading The Rule of Saint Benedict for next week, and as I ask them to start thinking in terms of applying Christianity to lifestyle. I'm particularly interested in seeing how they think of adapting the fabulously-flexible Rule to contemporary life and beyond its original monastic intent. I want them to really use studying this as an exercise in adapting such an established piece of Wisdom beyond its historical confines, and I think The Rule is particularly amenable to this kind of re-imagining, and so will serve as an ideal subject for such an exercise.

Somehow in the midst of that, I discovered this new website that I was very pleased with, The Asian Christian Art Association. Speaking of "adaptation," I've always been struck by art I have seen where you see the adaptation of such well-established Western Asian imagery as the biblical stories into the forms and motifs of Eastern Asian art. I had a small copy of a Holy Family as (I think) Chinese peasants hanging in my classroom at Saint Joe's that I was very fond of, though I did not know the artist or origin of the piece. There were a number of pieces and artists I was taken with, such as this Nativity by Japan's Hiroshi Tabata, but I couldn't help but notice that all of the work by one artist in particular consistently grabbed me.

So, here in this site I managed to discover a new artist I can or could be very enthusiastic about, one Yu Jiade or Yu Jia-de, apparently of Shanghai, whose slightly more representational style makes the distinctive "adaptations" all the move vivid for me. At the same time, his work hits me as containing within itself a fairly epic sense of the power of a given moment. Unfortunately, there's very little of him represented on this site or on the web as a whole, it seems, and not a hint of being able to purchase a print. Or, there might be at the website of the Amity Christian Art Centre (which shamelessly lifts the web code of the Vatican's website), because this looks rather like his work, but their English version isn't up, and all the text is in Chinese, so I can't tell.... I think my very favourite of the ones I saw of his would be this Nativity, which I would love to give to Haley, for some reason or impulse I don't particularly understand, and in a near second place, his Woman at the Well.

Speaking of art, I couldn't help but be struck by this AP story the other day. I gotta start breaking into abandoned cars more often....
2 Stolen Paintings Found by Swiss
Feb 19, 10:06 AM (ET)


ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) - Two Impressionist paintings stolen in one of Europe's largest art thefts have been recovered in an abandoned car, police said Tuesday.

The pictures by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet were among four paintings worth $163 million that were stolen from a private museum in a Feb. 10 armed robbery.

The two other paintings taken from the E.G. Buehrle Collection - one by Edgar Degas and the other by Paul Cezanne - remain missing, Philipp Hotzenkoecherle, commandant of the Zurich city police, told reporters.

The recovered paintings - Monet's "Poppy field at Vetheuil" and van Gogh's "Blooming Chestnut Branches" - were discovered in a parking lot in front of a Zurich mental hospital on Monday. It was unknown how long the white sedan in which the paintings were found had been parked there, Hotzenkoecherle said.

The pictures, worth a combined $64 million, are in good condition and were found still under the glass behind which they were displayed in the museum, he said. They were identified by museum director Lukas Gloor after a thorough inspection.

"I am incredibly relieved that two paintings have returned," Gloor told a news conference. "We're very happy that both the paintings are in absolutely impeccable shape."

Zurich police spokesman Marco Cortesi said he did not know whether a ransom had been paid to recover the paintings. Gloor, standing next to him, said, "I can't give any information on that."

Gloor said the two paintings still missing includes "our collection's landmark "Boy in the Red Waistcoat."

That painting, by Cezanne, alone is worth $91 million. The other painting is Degas'"Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter."

Local radio station Radio 24, citing an unidentified witness, reported that the building supervisor at the hospital found the paintings in an unlocked car.

The hospital is only a few hundred yards from the museum.

Police sealed off the hospital grounds and forensic experts went over the vehicle meticulously before it was towed away.

Police initially said the vehicle may have been used by the three robbers when they made their escape with the four paintings from the museum.

"Connections with other arts thefts in the country and abroad are being examined," said Cortesi.


Associated Press writers Onna Coray in Zurich and Eliane Engeler and Alexander G. Higgins in Geneva contributed to this report.
Tags: art, asia, books, catholicism, class-theology through the centuries, cultural, haley, monasticism, mysticism/spirituality, random, theological notebook

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