Psalm 93 by Bernard C. Winter

Bernard C. Winter

Psalm 93, 2017, Acrylic on panels, 101 x 152 cm, Private Collection, © Bernard C. Winter; Photo: Courtesy of the Artist

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Sure Decrees

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I am not trying to illustrate the text of the psalms, as such, but to reach a place in an inner landscape, a state of being. The artwork in the end is the accumulated work upon a meditation upon a specific text and I hope that the text will be felt when viewing the art work. My desire to create visual meditations on the psalms springs from the desire to make the inner life visible. (Winter 2017a)

In his psalmic paintings, Quaker painter Bernard C. Winter aims not solely to capture the imagery in a given psalm, but also to use painting as a form of meditation on the psalm’s emotional journey. Winter’s focus on his inner life and relationship with Christ as he meditates on a psalm reflects the biblical theologian Ellen F. Davis’s account of the Psalms as ‘instructed emotion’ (Davis 2005: 21). Here the artist incorporates both image and text, his own translation drawn creatively from several English versions.

Winter’s use of shape and colour conveys what he sees as the dual emotional impact of Psalm 93 (Winter 2017b). He writes: ‘My vision of the psalm was that of two energies—a driving chaotic force, and a majestic, stabilizing force would be interacting’. The ‘driving chaotic force’ is here captured by the whirling hurricane, bounded in by the ‘outstretched arms’ of the Latin cross.

By incorporating the bold capital letters of the psalm in his painting, Winter both makes the letters into images and emphasizes the textual basis of this artwork. These letters are solid and weighty, just as God’s testimony is sure (v.5). The bright, vivid contrast between the blue background and the bright red lettering again reflects the dual emotional energy of the psalm.

Winter’s Latin cross suggests a christological dimension to his interpretation of Psalm 93; he writes that when creating it he was thinking of Gospel accounts of Jesus calming stormy waters (Matthew 8:23–27; Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25). This painting, then, reflects the prayerful lectio divina behind all Winter’s artwork—a canonical-scriptural imagination at work, finding vivid expression in a visual medium.

 

References

Davis, Ellen F. 2005. Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press)

Winter, Bernard C. 2017a. ‘About the Psalm Series, 28 October 2017’, www.bernardcwinterart.com, [accessed 19 August 2019]

Winter, Bernard C. 2017b. ‘Psalm 93 and Reflections on the Psalm, 28 October 2017’, www.bernardcwinterart.com, [accessed 19 August 2019]


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