Wonderful Blood

This is the starting point of a series of drawings (and book) I am calling ‘Wonderful Blood’ -A Visual Theology On Blood-.

With this project I am making through drawings a visual investigation on christian blood cult, mostly from western european XIV-XV centuries, going through eucharistic (eaten and visual), relics, bleeding objects and images, visions, apparitions, pilgrimages, art representations, legends, private and public devotional phenomena, theological controversies, and so on.

In a way this project is a continuation of something I started with my book of drawings (230) ‘The Red Cathedral’ (2013-2014), although in that book I treated christian imagery and phenomena as well as its “holy matter” characteristics in very general terms. In this occasion I am focusing solely on Blood cult and devotion as the “holy matter” and visual means those cults were performed with.

I kind of abandoned the drawing style and visual patterns I developed with ‘The Red Cathedral’, but I find that language I created is a perfect tool to go through this subject, so I am recovering that way of drawing and working. But I will be developing other projects on the same subject using other kind of techniques as well.

My interest for holy matter and holy materiality started when years ago I read about the concepts of 'Immanence' in saint Augustine works and how closely related the christian mystery of 'Incarnation' is with the inherence of the divine and the spirit in 'Matter' and in 'Image', a phenomena that in a way sums up the utterly non-dualistic essence (communion between spirit and body-matter) of catholic christianity and other christian traditions. This communion between the divine and matter is not just very relevant in the mystery of Incarnation, but in Resurrection and the Ascension (Christ ascends to God not just spiritually but in a physical form, so matter and body are important in this communion). In Catholic christianity matter-body by itself is not considered evil, nor a bad thing whatsoever, and actually we can purify ourselves through a christian way of approaching matter, body, images and the whole world in general. That spiritual communion with/through matter and image quite interests me.

Back in the XIV and XV centuries it was very common the use of mental visual exercises to meditate about the life of Christ, making use or physical images and many texts that recreated very visually the episodes of his life. In those exercises we have again a communion between matter (and its visual) means with spirit.

I find all of this is intimately linked too to some other subject I am very fond of: the spanish mysticism of XVI century from the catholic contra-reform times, which mystics (st. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and many others) experienced and mostly expressed their mysticism in very “material”, visual, tactile, tasting ways. An intense 'sensuality' that in many occasions were expressed with even almost erotic means (Although not in a literal way). That “sensual” tendency is probably a direct in-heritage of sufi mysticism, since muslims occupied Spain during many centuries not so long before the times of St. teresa of Avila. In this spanish mysticism we have again an intimate communion between the divine/spirit and body/matter.

In any case, all the things I’ve talked about above can be summed up on this: my interest on the “Holy Materiality” phenomena. And this project is just one piece in my research, a piece that is focused on blood cult.

The drawings I am posting here are just a slight example of what I working on. I will be posting more as the project goes along.

With the drawings I am posting pictures of some of the books I am getting inspiration from for this project, with especial attention to those of Caroline Walker Bynum.

-Man Of Sorrows As Fountain Of Life-

-The Five Wounds/Fragments Of Jesus Bleeding As One And As A Whole'

               -Blood Acheiropoietos As A Result Of A Miraculous Bleeding Chalice -

                      -Christ in the Chalice/Winepress-

                        -Soteriological Sacrifice Of Christ As A Bleeding And Illuminating Candle-
(Solid Wax As Body, Wick As Soul, Flame As The Divine, Melted Wax As Soteriological Blood) 

  -Five Wounds Of Jesus As Soteriological Bleeding Candles-

  -Saint Francis Getting The Stigmata As A Result Of Mirroring Jesus Christ-

                              -Presence Of Christ In Holy Matter/Blood-                                     -Blood As Word, Word As Blood-

                      -Soteriological drop/fragment of Christ As Soteriological Whole Of Christ (Fragment As A Whole)

                -Mass Of Saint Gregory I- 

                                                  -Holy Wounds Veil-                               -Bleeding Fragments/Pieces (Relics) of the Cross-

                                          -Blood As Body, Body As Blood-                           -Pieta Of The Holy Wounds-

 -Concomitance I. Host As Body And As Blood-             -Concomitance II. Fragment As A Whole-

                                             -Taste Communion-                                                     -Visual Communion-