Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Reflections 10: More Than 1,000 Words ~ The Art of Ron DiCianni

"Simeon's Moment" by American artist Ron DiCianni

"It is my sincere hope that my paintings
 will result in your encouragement and
 knowledge of God.

 "What you will be seeing is the fruit of
 decades of effort in honing my craft. I am
 honored and continually amazed that God
 uses these efforts in the body of Christ. I
 feel it's what I was born to do.

 "I realize that any painting can make you
 look. I'm hoping that mine will help you
 see."  ~
Ron DiCianni
You've probably seen the art of Ron DiCianni (pronounced dee cee AH nee) many times before. Early on in his career he illustrated for some major corporations, and he was the official artist for the United States Olympic Committee for the Moscow Olympic Games. His work also graced the covers of This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, both authored by Frank E. Peretti. Though I read both of these books and appreciated the cover art, which initially drew me to the books (yes, you can tell much about a book by its cover), I didn't know who the illustrator was. I awakened to DiCianni's wonderful work through Max Lucado's and Joni Eareckson Tada's Christian Tell Me storybooks. Of course, they're in my library. I'm a storyteller!
       As I listened to Morning Edition on NPR this morning, they praised the work of an artist whose paintings look like photographs. I understand the skill required to produce such a work, but I have to ask myself why. Why would one want his canvas to look like a photo? Just take a picture. Let the artistic eye of the photographer show through the shot's composition, angle, juxtaposition of light and shadow, and darkroom/Photoshop expertise. Nonetheless, that artist's work is highly acclaimed, and that's fine, but not my preference.
       I prefer the complexity, the subtextual elements in a work by DiCianni. I cannot glance at one of his paintings and move on to the next. My eyes probe every square inch, seeking what is not easily seen.
      Case in point: the image above. Simeon's Moment. Remember Simeon? You can read about him here. He'd served the Lord in the Temple his whole life and awaited the fulfillment of the coming of the Christ. Carefully consider DiCianni's painting. Notice the enraptured look on Simeon's face. Do you see the tear. The emotion the artist expressed with that one tear would take paragraphs for a writer to describe. Here is a close-up:

Detail of DiCianni's Simeon's Moment

        Can you hear the emotion-filled worship erupting from the depths of Simeon's soul as he cradles the Creator of the universe to his bosom. Is the tear one of joy? Is it one of thankfulness to our merciful Father? Or is it inspired by a terrible vision of that Child as a Man suffering the indignation of the Cross for Simeon's own sins and those of a wretched, sinful world? 
       Jesus! The Light pierced the darkness of this world two millennia ago. Look again at the detail. DiCianni identifies the infant in Simeon's arms as that Light with the four-pointed star coming from the child. See it? The cross-shaped star?
       And of course you caught the underlying depiction of the world, signifying that the Babe came not only to the Jews but to all the world's people, for "all have sinned and fallen short of God's holy standard" and are in need of a Saviour!
       An interviewer asked DiCianni if he deliberately hid symbolic elements in his paintings. Here is his response:

"I have never set out to hide anything in my
 work. Rather, there are elements of secondary
 and tertiary importance to the central theme
 represented in my work.

 "In a painting we lessen the importance of an
 element by changing its size, color, or rendering.
 The lesser elements become slightly obscure
 at that point. When a person 'discovers' them
 later, it can seem that the element was hidden.

 "This is why it is very important to study
 these paintings. When you think you have the
 overall theme — after you 'get it' — it can be
 exciting to discover related messages that
 will expand your appreciation for the things of God."

I love all of DiCianni's work that I've seen, but Simeon's Moment is definitely a favorite. What's yours?

Question: Gentle Reader, do you see other significant, subtle elements in Simeon's Moment?


Kathi Linz said...

I have two in close competition for first. One is the Resurrection painting with many Old Testament saints watching in adoration and the one where Jesus is coming back for His own with an angel blowing a trumpet near Him. When I need a reminder of how close God is, I think of the one with the young preacher at the pulpit and a cloud of witnesses standing with him. Ron Dicianni is my favorite artist.

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

Oh, yes, Kathi, I love both of those also! I'll have to see if I can find them. Perhaps I'll feature them around Resurrection Sunday.
Write on!
Because of Christ,