“If we take the world’s enduring religions at their best, we discover the distilled wisdom of the human race.”
“…it is imperative that the followers of the various religions join their voices in calling for peace, tolerance, and respect for the dignity and rights of others.”
Multifaith is a series of photographs depicting various religious books and objects found in antique shops, second hand stores and flea markets. These items were chosen for their aesthetic and symbolic quality and were utilized as tools for research and contemplation. The main idea behind this undertaking was to create a pluralistic and all-encompassing type of artwork which comments on the variety of religious beliefs and identifies similarities between them.
The work was inspired and influenced by seventeenth century Dutch still life/vanitas paintings, which often contained religious and allegorical symbolism and generally alluded to the brevity of life and the transient nature of human pleasures. Another important source of inspiration was daily life in my hometown Thessaloniki (Greece), a multicultural melting pot where people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds have co-existed for hundreds of years.
During the course of the project I was immersed in the study of sacred texts, comparative religion, spiritual literature and perennial philosophy. I discovered many commonalities between religious faiths (eg. monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism have common origins and share several beliefs and practices) and also became aware that “spirituality” is a topic which encompasses a broad spectrum of ideas which are not necesssarily religious or metaphysical. I was very interested in interpretations of the spiritual as an attitude of brotherhood, interconnectedness and compassion towards the “other”. In Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millenium the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso defines spirituality as “those qualities of the human spirit -such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsiblity, a sense of harmony- which bring happiness to both self and others”.
Unfortunately we are currently witnessing phenomena such as polarization between the east and west, ideological extremism and “holy wars” which are threatening world peace and stability. In an age of globalization but also fragmentation and uncertainty my work aims to encourage dialogue between religions, and also aspires to promote an awareness of the commonality of humanity and a more tolerant and universal approach to the spiritual. The conceptual position at which I have arrived is that my artistic practice is not an end in itself, but rather a vehicle of research, integration and transformation, and a way for me to reflect on the social and spiritual condition of our time. I believe that the global language of art can help pave the path towards self-
discovery, respect towards fellow people and the evolution of humanity as a whole.
Armstrong, Karen (1994) A History of God (1993). Ballantine Books.
Butler-Bowdon, Tom (2005) 50 Spiritual Classics. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Collazo Julie Schwietert, Rogak Lisa (2013) Pope Francis in his Own Words. Harper Collins Publishers.
Dalai Lama (1999) Ancient Wisdom, Modern World: Ethics for the New Millenium. Little, Brown/Abacus Press.
Eliade, Mircea (1967) From Primitives to Zen. Harper Collins Distribution Services.
Frazer, James George (1950) The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Macmillan.
Gandhi, Mohandas (1983) An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Dover Publications.
Griffiths, Bede (1994) Universal Wisdom. Harper Collins Publishers.
Huxley, Aldous (2009) The Perennial Philosophy. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
James, William (1983) The Varieties of Religious Experience. Penguin Classics.
Lee, Lydia (2015) Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector. Prestel.
Mazower, Mark (2004) Salonica City of Ghosts. Harper Collins Publishers.
Smith, Huston (2009) The World’s Religions. HarperOne.
Wolf, Norbert (2009) Still Life. Taschen.
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