By Iona McCombie Smith | The BL

In modern art, be it poetry, painting, music or dance, magnificent and overwhelming works that can withstand the test of time and carry a deep and thorough meaning to humanity are hard to find.

This realization prompts a question of what deters the creativity of modern artists, given the development of skill and technology?

Upon delving into the artistic works of the classical time commonalities are revealed, one, in particular, is shared by all: paying tribute and offering praise to God and the creator.

Art at the heyday of its proficiency

The point at which artistic prowess reached its most complete perfection and greatest harmony is arguably the Renaissance, its center was Rome, the city of popes, churches, palaces, and paintings. Behind the most prolific works of Renaissance art, one can easily come across familiar stories of Greek Mythology and the Bible, such as God’s creation of man, Moses turning the red sea and Jesus suffering on the behalf of all mankind.

The painting Prometheus Steals Fire from Apollo’s Sun Chariot (1814) depicts the scene of Prometheus stealing fire from the chariot of the Sun God to offer to humans. (Painter: Giuseppe Collignon, Wikipedia)

Photo of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, nine paintings which are composed of nine scenes from the Book of Genesis in reverse time order. (Wikipedia)

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, (1509–1510) by Rafael. (Public Domain)

Left: The Raphael Room – in one of the Pope’s homes. (Wikipedia); Right: Photo of a domed ceiling at the Vatican museum. (Shutterstock)

With regards to European literature, great poems such as The Iliad of Homer, The Lost Paradise of Milton, The Inferno of Dante, and The Messiah of Klopstock, all demonstrate a respect for the gods to the audience. For example, when referring to Dante’s Inferno, a work featuring the vast universe of the Christian virtues, the European population in general, and especially the Italian population in particular, repeatedly express their pride and respect. Many Italians can recite excerpts of The Inferno, and they consider the poet as the father of Italian language and Italian literature.

In the East, the most elaborate and monumental sculptures are found in the Longmen Grottoes containing more than 100,000 statues of the Buddha. It expands across 2,345 caves and contains 43 temples adorned with over 2,800 inscriptions. 1,000 statues of the Buddha are carved out of jade on the top of Longevity Hill in the Summer Palace and the Leshan Giant Buddha – the highest stone buddha statue – is situated on Leshan mountain.

Across the globe, the most magnificent of artistic and architectural achievements are found in the Hanging temples of the Great Five Mountains of China, the ancient temples in India and Thailand, and the Islamic mosques of the Middle East. All of which was designed in recognition of the Gods.

Buddha Statues at Longmen Grottoes. (Wikipedia)

Left: Buddha Statue in Sri Lanka. (Pixabay, Public Domain); Right: Ancient statue in Thailand (Matadornetwork.com)

Leshan Giant Buddha is the highest stone statue of Maitreya, carrying within itself the expectations and hopes of people in the East. (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Why worldwide art culminated in the works that praise spiritual beliefs

Traditional spiritual beliefs are deemed one of the most universal moral values of mankind. It has been widely acknowledged that moral standards determine the temperament of the artist. In order to fully express the spirit, the soul of a work, be it a painting, a sculpture, a piece of music, or a dance, the artist must have a pure heart. If the mind of an artist is not pure, then their work is only a technical showcase. It is no longer a work of art.

In traditional culture, the concept of ethics was found in all professions. Even when going to school, ancient people were required to regulate their breathing and calm their minds before studying. When the peaceful spirit and morality flourishes, an individual could disregard worldly desires, nurture mercy, and carry out tasks with the purest wisdom. Only by doing so could they achieve the highest standards in their works, especially with regards to their art.

Art brings people back to compassion. (Zhen Shan Ren Art)

When observing, contemplating on and admiring a work of art, the viewer can feel the inner values ​​of the artist. Therefore, an artwork is not simply something marking an achievement, but a contribution of the most wonderful values to the community: to promote goodness and inner peace, to help others to flourish. This is the art to be the most honored and respected by humanity.

If art is designed to serve the society from which it is created and crafted to emphasize integrity and honesty, the artist should return to traditional spiritual beliefs and the teachings of the gods. It should be summoned from the original ethical essence of culture; that which connects mankind to the gods. A perfect work of art should strive to lift people up from the inside and bring people closer to Heaven.

Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, the most famous painting of the Renaissance, implies that God always watches over mankind and that the Messiah would come to save good people when the great disaster occurs. (Wikipedia Commons)

Ancient people believed that every culture was a precious gift that Heaven passed down to humanity; each civilization began with the guidance of the gods. Human culture, at its most essential core, is the culture of praising the gods and a culture’s art is its most powerful tool to demonstrate this connection.

(The cover photo from Shutterstock)