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Jim Janknegt

Craigie Aitchison

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Speaking of newly discovered artists I recently found out about Craigie Aitchison. He is British, originally from Scotland, born in 1926. Many of his works have Christian themes, specifically the Crucifixion. His paintings are very simple and the color is amazing. I've never seen any in real life, only from books and the web. I checked out Craigie: the Art of Craigie Aitchison from the library and have really enjoyed it.

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I appreciate the simplicity of the image. While this kind of simplicity looks easy to do if you have ever tried to paint this way it is incredibly difficult. There are so few elements that every one has to be nearly perfect or the overall effect is quickly destroyed.

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yank_eh   

Thanks for this Jim. I viewed a handful of his images online and the one you posted is definitely the strongest, IMO. Is he still painting at 80? Does the book talk much about the prevalence of animals in his religious imagery? That's what really draws me to it.

Edited by yank_eh

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Thanks for this Jim. I viewed a handful of his images online and the one you posted is definitely the strongest, IMO. Is he still painting at 80? Does the book talk much about the prevalence of animals in his religious imagery? That's what really draws me to it.

I assume he is still painting. I did a Lexis-Nexis search and found he had an exhibit last year. It is unfortunate there is so little of his work on the web. The book I checked out seems much more representative and I got a much better sense of his overall style.

He is very fond of animals and they figure in many of his paintings. He is particularly attached to the breed of dogs called Bedlington terriers. That is one in the painting above. He also likes birds. I have not read what the signifigance of the animals are in relation to the religious imagery. What do you think?

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yank_eh   

In the image above, I imagine the simple curiosity of a dog at the phenomenon of crucifixion which to it is probably no stranger than any other human custom. That simple, non-judgmental engagement that is so characteristic of domestic (and even wild animals to a degree) provides an interesting counterpoint to the human cruelty that nailed Christ up there and the religious sentiments now associated with a crucifix. The presence of an animal, for me, quiets the moment, and presents the crucifixion in a simpler form, free of all the historical trappings it has accumulated over the years.

I also wonder about the relationship between Christ and this dog. It might seem a stretch to say there seems to be a tenderness between them, but their proximity, color similarity amid the forboding and empty darkness, the posture of the dog and the tilt of Christ's head seem to suggest it. Which raises question, where does this dog--and by extension, all animals--fit in the soteriological economy? It is a question neglected by the vast majority of theologians. Animals are quickly dismissed by most Christians as sometimes cute, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes dangerous, but always irrelevent accoutrements to the only story that matters, humanity's.

Much of my read is influenced by my pre-existing interest in animals and theology; I'd be interested to know how other people see it.

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Which raises question, where does this dog--and by extension, all animals--fit in the soteriological economy? It is a question neglected by the vast majority of theologians. Animals are quickly dismissed by most Christians as sometimes cute, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes dangerous, but always irrelevent accoutrements to the only story that matters, humanity's.

Much of my read is influenced by my pre-existing interest in animals and theology; I'd be interested to know how other people see it.

Craigie did a series of prints after one of his Bedlington terriers died. The last one in the series shows the dog ascending to heaven upside down, paws pointing towards heaven (couldn't find it on the web but it is in the book).

One of the things I have read about the four living creatures that surround the throne of God in Revelation is, that each one represents the pinnacle of their animal type: Lion-king of beasts, Eagle-king of birds, bull-king of domestic animals. That, combined with all of the Psalms that speak of all creation praising God and Romans that has all creation on tiptoe makes me hope that animals will, indeed, have a place in heaven.

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