Daniel Mitsui and The Good, The True, and The Beautiful

We will feature Daniel Mitsui’s art, The Crucifixion every day during Holy Week, 2017. Below are a few remarks he made about this piece during a talk to the Wojtyla Institute in Memphis, Tennessee, October 2016.

“The right hand of God represents Mercy, and the left hand Justice; this is attested many times in holy writ. This is why, in a picture of the Crucifixion, the good thief is invariably to Christ’s right hand and the bad thief to His left.

Mercy and Justice are themselves related to the New and Old Testaments, and thus it is possible to align all three of these directions. Here is a picture of the Crucifixion. There is the good thief at the right hand of Christ, beneath the Sun, symbol of the New Testament; that must be south. There is the bad thief and the moon; that must be north. So what, then, is the perspective of the picture? The artist and the viewer are looking westward.

Consider a picture of the Last Supper. Jesus Christ faces the artist and the viewer. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated ad orientem, so the perspective of the picture must be ad occidentum. In a picture of the Ascension, Christ faces the artist and the viewer as He ascends to the east; again, they are looking westward.

Why should this be? Because Gothic art represents not a view into heaven but a view from heaven. It adopts the perspective of a heavenly being who sees events on earth – sees them, that is, with eyes that are not bound by time or space. Thus a picture of the Crucifixion is truly a picture of the Crucifixion, not of a reenactment. But it is the Crucifixion seen from eternity.

From eternity, happenings of different times may appear in the same inspection. Nothing is hidden due to distance, obstruction or shadow. There is no single vanishing point in the far off distance, because the infinite (Our Father Who Art in Heaven) is behind the artist and the viewer. No light within the picture causes shadows to be cast onto the figures, for an overpowering light is again behind the artist and the viewer, illuminating everything, flashing onto everything the beauty-causing impartations of its own wellspring ray.

Considering this, the development in late Gothic art of more detailed anatomy, clothing and landscape is sensible and consistent with the tradition. It did not proceed from the same ideas that the contemporary innovations of the Italian Renaissance did.”

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
            

Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
            

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
            

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
                From John Keats’ epic poem, Endymion, 1818:

Please go to his website ( http://www.danielmitsui.com/ ) to find other digital reproductions of his marvelous work to delight your eye and your soul. You’ll also be able to buy both reproductions and original art work. I consider his reproductions excellent graduation gifts and have already given St. Joan of Arc, Wedding at Cana, and St. Michael and His Angels to three of my grandchildren. Where else could one find something inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful that will bring joy to the recipient the rest of his life?

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