Cultural Arts Review: Spreading Christianity in China through Art

Posted on March 24, 2013 by

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He Qi is a Chinese Christian Artist who uses his artwork to expose Christianity in China. He Qi is working on breaking that cultural barrier between Christianity and the Chinese people. He believes that gradual exposure to Christianity can help open the eyes of the Chinese people. He explains the different ways somebody in China can be exposed to Christianity, “One is by the strong influence from his family background; another way is by his own choice—‘step by step.’ I belong to the second way.”

 

In the painting, “Jesus Triumphant Entry,” we see a depiction of this event through the work of a modern Chinese Christian Artist. For those of you who do not know, Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ entrance into the city of Jerusalem, when palms were placed on his path and waved in celebration of his arrival. Palm Sunday signifies the end of Lent, and the beginning of the Holy week, which Christians celebrate their salvation through Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

 

In the center of the painting we see Jesus riding a donkey through Jerusalem while onlookers celebrate and honor his arrival. The street people appear reverent; they are shown waving their palms, kneeling to him, and laying down their coats for him. Jesus’ holy image is depicted with a halo above his head his bright red robes. Jesus is also shown in this image above all of the other characters. Three is special symbol in the Christian religion as it symbolizes God, Jesus, and the spirit. A possible reference is made to this holy number in the painting; there are three people in the background waving palms and three towers on the gates of Jerusalem.

 

In the painting most of the people depicted seem not to be of any specific race. The races seem to be a bit ambiguous. Much of the older famous artwork of Christianity depicts characters in the painting as pertaining to their own race or the race that they are painting the painting for. He Qi uses his paintings to bridge the gaps between China and Christianity by allowing his audience to identify themselves with the characters in his painting. Most Christian artwork portrays European characters and people making it hard other cultures and races to identify themselves in the artwork. In the painting, Jesus and all of the characters are wearing Asian style footwear; not footwear that are most commonly associated with the European depiction of footwear or the biblical depiction. The footwear and the other subtle images in the painting (Chinese writing and baby) attempt to break the foreign image of Christianity. When the Chinese see his work and can relate to them it creates something they can relate to and as He Qi said start that “step by step” interest in Christianity.

 

He Qi’s imagery and colors as well as his way of depicting biblical stories remind me of Christian Illumination pictures. These pictures usually have a central character sometimes with people depicted around the central character, portraying a religious message without the use of many words. There is a lot of diversity in China; there are many different sub cultures, dialects, and religions and barriers preventing ideas from being spread. I interpret his paintings as a way to communicate and spread Christianity in a very simple and effective way throughout all of China. 

Source for quote: http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Luk-24,13_Emmaus_on_the_way_en_route/slides/21%20HE%20QI%20SUPPER%20AT%20EMMAUS.htm

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