Sep 15, 2013

Gay intimacy with Christ

Many thanks to Kittredge Cherry (again) for a collection of  stunning images from gay artist, Richard Stott. Read the full article and view more images at her superb blog, Jesus in Love.

This is only a partial image of one panting. For a full view and for Richard Stott's own reflections,  see Kittredge's Cherry's article at Jesus in Love Blog.

What makes these images so powerfully erotic and moving is the fact that it is the crucified Jesus from the cross who is embracing the other male figure, thereby making explicit much of the sublimated sexuality of Christian mysticism of the cross. As Storr points out in his reflections,  not everyone will feel drawn to relate to Jesus in such a mystical/erotic way and some will not feel drawn to Jesus at all in their search for the transcendent. But I have always felt a deep mystical love for the crucified and embodied Christ, so these paintings moved me deeply.

The painting below inspired me all through my Jesuit novitiate days  some 50 years ago. And while it is not on the same level of quality as Richard Stott's work, it still served as a powerful icon for the passionate love of the crucified heart of Jesus. In fact, it was used as a holy card in those days long ago, to further devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But what a difference from Richard Stott's powerfully erotic, fully human paintings, in which the most intimately human areas of Christ's body are shown. This Jesus is engaged in passionate, suffering love with another wounded human being. He is not solitary in his suffering, but rapturously consumed by the Other. Stott has managed to capture the passionate, all consuming love of Jesus for a single individual, thereby making his love so much more concrete and personal, powerful and real. This is a suffering love that burns for each one of us personally, individually, sensuously, erotically. And since these images are of same sex couples, we cannot help relate the wounds of this sufferning Christ to the afflictions of gay people everywhere. The image below is of a lonely, isolated Christ, suffering in sadness and solitary, abandoned isolation. But it is not a passionate, erotic, Christ. Nonetheless, the painting served me well as a doorway into the divine heart of Jesus.


Kittredge Cherry said...

Thank you for sharing your own personal story and the powerful image that inspired you much earlier on your mystical path. I’m glad that you find Stott’s work as inspiring as I do. I appreciate the links to my blog and your kind words about work at Jesus in Love. I am going to send Richard Stott and link to this insightful post.

I especially like how you wrote, “What makes these images so powerfully erotic and moving is the fact that it is the crucified Jesus from the cross who is embracing the other male figure…” This is something I myself had not yet been able to put into words. And yet it is the same theme as another image I posted at Jesus in Love recently, of the crucified Christ embracing St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Saints Bernard of Clairvaux and Malachy: Honey-tongued abbot and the archbishop he loved

Ric Stott said...

Thanks for these beautiful reflections on my work. I'm so glad that you connect to the experience that I'm reaching towards in these images. Every blessing. Ric

Richard Demma said...

Thank you for the very appreciative comments. I'm still in a state of shock over the erotic power of these beautiful paintings, so moving and inspirational Richard.

Kittredge, I just read the beautiful article you posted on Bernard of Clairvaux - wow! What a revelation!

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