14. A Sequence of Paintings

by Robert Wright

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Commentary by the artist

Robert Wright writes:

“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”― Thomas Merton: Seeds of Contemplation

The Twentieth Century monk Thomas Merton (1915-68) was driven by a search for truth and a deep longing for God. He said, “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.” To know this truth, Merton wrote, we are to “pray for our own discovery.” Again, Merton wrote, “God utters me like a partial thought of himself,” echoing the opening page of St Augustine’s Confessions: “You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” And so Merton wrote: “The secret of our identity is hidden in the love and mercy of God” and God does not desire that we become anything other than the true self which God has loved from all eternity.

These four small paintings seek to explore these truths, and their stillness and profundity invite the viewer to spend time quietly with God, to reflect on how our prayer, which is really God praying in us, allows our lives to develop not according to our own preconceptions but from the hand of God. We find the same colours in each of the four paintings; they speak to us of mystery, depth, transcendence, and our deepest humanity. The movement of the colours and the interplay between them seek to express something about what the human being really is in they eyes of God which cannot be completely translated into verbal theology ( vide Karl Rahner).

So I don’t want to write too much because what is important for me is that the viewer allows time for “the inner eye” to see the inner image, the inner truth in these paintings ( vide Bill Viola), spiritual and ethical insights that perhaps cannot be reached in any other way.

Vicar’s reflections

Andrew Bunch writes:

The series of four paintings “Love is my true self”, “Selflessness is my true self”, “Love is my true character” and “Love is my true name” by Robert Wright captures the nature of the dynamic relationship that comes into being through our relationship with God. Human beings are not statues which are unchanging in character. A person who is engaged with God is necessarily called to play a different tune depending on the demands in which they find themselves. The way we show love will adapt to the situation. What we are able to offer will vary between people and we know our greatest sense of fulfilment when we become least conscious of who we are. When engaged with God, we do not have to worry who we are or what we can do, our opportunity is to enjoy the experience of God’s love flowing freely through us into the situation in which we are placed.