The artist is not a special kind of person. Every person is a special kind of artist. Eric Gill

Alfonso Arana: Anunciación

ArtWay Visual Meditation Christmas 2022

Alfonso Arana: Anunciación

The Veil

by Sandra Bowden

Alfonso Arana has given us a most intriguing Annunciation. The angel looms large approaching Mary who is kneeling while peeling away a thin veil from her face and her body. What could this mean?

In Christian tradition the veil was a symbol of dignity, chastity and virginity. The history and meaning of wearing a veil, especially the wedding veil which we are most familiar with, dates back to ancient times when unmarried women wrapped themselves, sometime head to toe, to identify as a virgin. To this day many brides wear a veil as they approach their groom for marriage.

The Bible has numerous instances where veils are mentioned. In the Old Testament the veil was the boundary between heaven and earth. Both in a physical and spiritual sense the veil represented the passage into the Holy of Holies. Ancient Israel’s tabernacle had a veil of thick purple, blue and scarlet materials, separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. It was a doorway to the presence of God into which only the high priest could enter.

The New Testament tells us that Jesus’ body veiled his deity. Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us that this veil was rent in two at the crucifixion. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain (veil) that is his body.” Paul says, “But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away,” allowing us to have access to God (II Corinthians 3:16). 

There is a medieval tradition that Mary wore a veil at the time of the Annunciation. Alfonso Arana is aware of this convention as he pictures Mary removing a thin veil, not only from her face, but from her whole body as she accepts what the Angel has told her, that she is to bear the Son of God. She offers herself, her body, to birth the one who will abolish the veil that separates us from God, breaking the boundary between heaven and earth.

Each of these insights help expand our understanding of the Annunciation and Incarnation in new ways as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.


Alfonso Arana: Anunciación, lithograph, 100 x 76 cm.

Alfonso Arana (1927 – 2005) is a Puerto Rican artist who created many biblical subjects, especially those that related to Mary and Mother and Child themes. He studied art in Mexico at the Atelier de Jose Bardasono, the Manhattan School of Arts in New York, the Académie Julian and L’Ecole des Beaus-arts of Paris, and did post graduate work at the American University in Washington, D.C. He exhibited his work in Tokyo, Paris, New York, Mexico City, Spain and Puerto Rico.

 Of his art, Arana said:

My figures have the elements of life and light. That light that invades the body is the spiritual side of these beings and I like painting in that spiritual space. Each figure transcends life beyond real life and I feel the beings come from within me and then I, myself become part of their world. They are real to me, they are my friends.

Sandra Bowden is a painter and printmaker with over 100 solo exhibitions.  She is a passionate collector of religious art and curates exhibitions that travel nationally from her collection. Sandra was president of CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) and trustee of the MOBIA (Museum of the Bible in Art). She studied at Massachusetts College of Art and received her BA from the State University of New York. For more information on Sandra Bowden go to and



RUSSIAN CHRISTMAS ANIMATION – Rozhdestro (The Birth of Christ), 1996, written and produced by Mikhail Aldashin. If you have not seen this delightful short film yet, watch it here

ON ARTLYST – Christmas: The Art Of Faith December 2022 Diary – by Revd Jonathan Evens. Read here

BOOK ABOUT SCANDINAVIAN PROTESTANT AESTHETICSAesthetics of Protestantism in Northern Europe. Exploring the Field, edited by Joachim Grage, Thomas Mohnike and Lena Rohrbach. The history and cultures of the Nordic countries are strongly influenced by Protestantism, which has been the dominant religion in Scandinavia since the Reformation. But how is this influence reflected aesthetically? What effects has Protestantism had, from its inception until the present day, on the production and reception of literature and art? This book explores the aesthetic consequences of Protestantism in Scandinavia. Fourteen case studies from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century discuss five abstract and trans-historical principles that characterize Scandinavian aesthetics and that arguably derive from Protestant thinking and practice, namely: simplicity, logocentrism, tension between pronounced individualism and collectivism, relatedness to the world, and ethics. The contributions address the peculiar aesthetics of Scandinavian print, literature, architecture, film, and opera and reflect on the influence of Protestant traditions on the establishment of genres and writing practices. This volume is the first in a new series that will focus on the aesthetics of Protestantism in Scandinavia, both theoretically and through exemplary individual analyses. Read more

CONTEMPLATION AND ARTISTIC PRACTICE – You can now listen to Morphe’s Make Good Lecture by Donna Matthews here. Donna Matthews reflected on the way contemplation has become foundational to her art practice: discussing parallels between flow, free improvisation, and speaking in tongues, looking at them as intuitive modes of consciousness that enhance receptivity to inspiration.

ANSELM KIEFER: EXODUS – Until 25 March 2023, Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, 4357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles and 555 West 24th Street, New York: Anselm Kiefer: Exodus. The large-scale paintings on view in New York and Los Angeles employ a wide range of materials including paint, terra-cotta, fabric, rope, wire, found objects, sediment of electrolysis, and metal—including copper and gold leaf. Mixing the abject and the exalted, these works are imbued with gesture, a sense of metamorphosis, and alchemical symbolism. Kiefer’s syncretic approach to materials extends to his understanding of history, literature, and mythology as forces that inform the present. In this new body of work, he incorporates inscriptions in Hebrew from the book of Exodus, with thematic references to its narrative blended with a diversity of other sources. Full of symbolic thresholds between peoples, places, and times, the paintings are metaphysical allegories that meditate on loss and deliverance, dispossession and homecoming.

TRIEGEL TRIFFT CRANACH – Bis 11 Juni 2023 im Diözesanmuseum, Markt 17, Paderborn: Triegel trifft Cranach – in Paderborn! Mit dem Naumburger Marienaltar ist ein hochkarätiges und vieldiskutiertes Meisterwerk von Lucas Cranach d. Ä. und Michael Triegel zu Gast im Diözesanmuseum. Es besteht aus den ursprünglichen, 1517–19 für diesen Standort geschaffenen Flügeltafeln von Lucas Cranach d. Ä. und einer von Michael Triegel zeitgenössisch ergänzten Mitteltafel, die die ursprüngliche, 1541 im Zuge einer bilderfeindlichen Aktion z erstörte Tafel ersetzt. Tradition und Gegenwart gehen hier eine gelungene Verbindung ein. Michael Triegel wurde 1968 in Erfurt geboren und studierte von 1990 bis 1997 Malerei an der Leipziger Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst bei Arno Rink und Ulrich Hachulla. International wurde Triegel 2010 bekannt, als er Papst Benedikt XVI. porträtierte. Darüber hinaus realisierte er zahlreiche kirchliche Aufträge wie Altarbilder, Deckengemälde oder auch die Ausgestaltung von Kirchenfenstern. Michael Triegel gilt neben Neo Rauch als wichtigster Vertreter der Neuen Leipziger Schule. Öffnungszeiten:

For more exhibitions, lectures, conferences etc., click here

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