by Andrej Tisma

Art and religion have represented two forms of the same phenomenon from prehistory up to this day the attitude of man towards the absolute and the meaning of existence. Art has expressed that attitude by more abstract means, indirectly, through symbols, whereas religion has worked on the formation of a system to experience these relations by taking a simple man through the experience and deeds of educated people and the rituals of direct communication with the absolute.

Art in its own right has developed from magic one, over ideological, to the formalism of our day. Religion has passed the way from direct (pagan), over symbolic, to the socialized one that is present today.

These two fields have permeated each other in the course of history. Religion has served as a motive and a starting point for the creation of art works and events, whereas art employed by religion has probably been the strongest manifesting aspect of human spirit, particularly in the field of music.

Amid all human intellectual activities science has been of utmost importance in the past 300 years. Being exact, empiric and materialistic, it has overshadowed religion and art, and it has strongly affected these two basically spiritual activities respectively. Denying the existence of the invisible and that which cannot be measured by instruments, science has neglected an enormous area of human activity - spirituality.

In such conditions art has engaged more in formal examinations and achievements, with its products, especially in the 20th century, becoming a sheer play of senses and intellect. Another characteristic is the strengthening of art market which has degraded creativity to manufacturing level.

There is a similar situation in the field of religion. Church is concerned with civil canons, selling of indulgences, political work and organizing profane celebrations for masses of people. Nowadays church is a kind of theatre in which men are being threatened by punishment and apocalyptic visions, with the aim of collecting large sums of money for church administration.
Unlike their previous mutual intertwining, art and religion have become two separate fields without any bonds whatsoever. Both art and religion lack spirituality and primary human innocence. A first-hand conscience of the absolute and the meaning of existence has disappeared from these two. Man yields to material values and idols that make him helpless and non-creative.

It is time to bring back spirituality, which is the link to the meaning of existence, it is time for art and religion to meet again. Science, thanks to its latest discoveries, is facing more frequently phenomena hard to explain and measure, which used to be, it is evident now, explained and applied by ancient religions long time ago. Change-over to other dimensions and worlds will be a common thing to do very soon, as well as human changing of reality by way of spiritual action. In these constellations even an artist can find himself as a free creator. Religion and art will join in on the same task again - bringing back spirit to everyday life, establishing a bond with the meaning of existence and restoring of a natural, innocent human being. Within this relationship art would give up its formalism, religion its social engagement, and they would together devote themselves to the basic values of human existence. Artist and priest, and scientist, too, would be again, similar to shaman and witch-doctor in the primeval community, united in one person that would act for the benefit of all, inviting the forces of good, repelling the forces of evil. A harmonic unity of three fields: science, art and religion, pillars to any civilization, would permanently solve piled-up ecological problems, and provide healthy and quality life of the human kind through adequate development of high technology.

(From: Art And Religion, Beogradska banka, Priboj, Yugoslavia, 1994)
Translated by Milos Radicevic