I am an agnostic. But few things move me as deeply as the religious expression. When I see it on others, of course - and when these ‘others’ don’t step on my toes telling me what to do. Which is not so common. Believers not only think they know everything, but are committed to save as many people as they can. Most importanly, they do it not because they love people, but for their own benefit: to acquire a better place in heaven.Indeed, I think most believers are damn egoists and self-seekers. Non-believers don’t think their happiness and well-being depend on what other people chose to do – it’s easier to let others just be.
Having said these, I repeat that few things move me as deeply as the religious expression. I see human humility against the Beyond, the seek for the Unknown, Need in its gravest form, an amazing wealth of ideas, forms and techniques in making the transcendental tangible –or at least, creating the impression/illusion that it becomes tangible. What aspect pf human life is more important than seeking the Unknown – and what aspect had such resources, continuity and variety in the answers it provides? The amount of human genious that has served the Quest for the Unknown is (understandably) unprecedented in history. Pretty much more than half of art history has to do with religion. Clearly most of painting (from the drawings in the Pyramids to Michelangelo, even, to Dali); the greatest architecture (the cathedrals are the most dominating buildings in all cities, four of the seven wonders of the ancient world are related to religion); so much of music (what would Bach be had there not been the church? what would the Requiems refer to?) and concerning the rest… what would theatre be like and how many plays would not been written had there not been the ceremonies of God Dionysus?); etc.
I understand modern world is not that religious and art has broken the tight boundaries, but 25+ centuries of world art history is not something one can put easily aside. Besides, believers are still strong enough rendering – we like it or not – religious topics important. Can one paint having no objections, say, Jesus ejaculating or a topless Madonna? Not to refer to Mohammed and Allah. Such topics are ‘easily provocative’ – but they are provocative in full sense of the word. And one of the major aims of art is to question boundaries.I approach the topic of religion photographically – meaning, one cannot see my objections in my pictures but rather, my admiration for the depth of belief, the imprint of togetherness, believers’ respect, fear, sadness, hope, the (so rare) state of ‘let go’.
Some more thoughts on religion (unfortunately only in Greek) here