Thursday, August 17, 2006

Icons and reading between the lines...

Strange how many small connections there are from of one part of life to another. I am currently editing a small volume of poems - of which more another time - in which the image of a young man with antlers recurs. It's an image I find unnacountably sexy and it put me in mind of an icon I saw many years ago, and indeed which I bought and still have somewhere. It's called 'Lord of the Dance' by a modern iconographer called Robert Lentz. I was shown a catalogue many years ago by an American seminarian, a woman of intense liberality and a really strong heart, for the icons distributed by Bridge Building Images. On the whole I'm never really struck by new-age Christianity and to be honest, that is a fair description of much of the work that was in that catalogue, but the Lentz icons did resonate. Much of his work at the time dealt with the hidden gay subtexts in Christian history - as you can see from the images posted here. But there was an obvious skill and attention to the traditions of iconography which lifted his work above that of the new-age mire. In truth I came across them at a time when I needed to make real connections between sex and spirituality and they helped enormously.

So I went looking for a picture of 'The Lord of the Dance' to post here. It soon became apparent that Bridge Building Images no longer stocked Lentz's icons and their stock seems a pale imitation of what it used to be all those years ago - sentiment and average-ness drowning out the one or two artists they still stock who have a bit of originality. I had to google Lentz and discovered his images at Trinity Stores. More intriguingly still, his images are separated out. There are ten images which treat of gay and/or pagan themes, these are on a separate page with the following terse quote from Lentz:

In deference to the criticism of Michael Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe, these ten images will no longer be distributed by the Order of Friars Minor through Trinity Stores. Trinity Stores will continue to sell these images until the inventory has been depleted.

to be fair to the title of this post - I suppose there's not much reading between the lines to be done really...

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