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Abstract Pictorial Art for Theology Across Religious Borders


  • Mon 16 Sep, 7:00pm – 9:00pm


The Lady Goodfellow Chapel, Gate 1, Knighton Road, Hamilton, New Zealand, Hamilton


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission


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“Pure Abstract Pictorial Art for Theology Across Religious Borders,” with Dr. Christopher Longhurst, Lecturer in Theology, The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand, Wellington.

Abstract: Interfaith dialogue can benefit immensely from comparative theology. This talk demonstrates the use of non-figural abstract pictorial art (pure abstract art). After defining the art type in question, the subject-matter-based approach to comparative theology of comparativist Robert Cummings Neville is taken up and applied to pictorial form (meaning made visible) and pictorial content (what is in the painting).

Neville describes the subject matter of comparative theology as “religious and theological ideas that fall under comparative categories.” Various artworks are presented as capable of expressing these ideas from different religious traditions across religious categories, that is, the artworks underscore Neville’s description of comparative theological subject matter in visual pictorial imagery.

How this art functions as illustrative medium for the intersection of comparable religious ideas will evidence an interfaith aspect of comparative theology. Master artworks under consideration are from the pictorial genres of American abstract expressionism, Russian avant-garde, and newcomers to the post-secular abstract pictorial art scene.

Examples of theological ideas shared across religious borders are Hinduism’s moksha (liberation), Islam’s wahdat al-wujud (Unity of Being), Asma al-husna (Beautiful names of Allah), Christianity’s divine attributes, Judaism’s echad (Divine Oneness) and Ein-Sof (Endless One), Shih-t’ao’s i-hua (one-stroke), and the Upanishad’s Soham (I am That IS), among others. Conclusions reached indicate that abstract non-figural pictorial art can serve as a tool for interreligious dialogue by exhibiting similar theological topics in diverse religious traditions, that is, Neville’s common ground of comparative theology.

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