THE BEATITUDE PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURE by Paul Hobbs 

Peacemakers

The leaders of Arts Plus have been praying about a meaningful response to the war between Russia and Ukraine.

 

To aid our prayers for these two nations, the people, their leaders and the church, we have decided to display the work of UK Artist Paul Hobbs who has created a series of nine paintings based on the beatitudes found in Mathew’s Gospel Chapter 5:1-12. It is our prayer that as you encounter and reflect on each image you are inspired to pray for peace and justice.

 

‘Brothers and sisters, listen carefully to these words from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In them he declares the blessings of God's kingdom. He gives us a vision of a world redeemed by love, and the qualities of discipleship which will bring about that transformation.’

 

www.churchofengland.org/

A series of 9 paintings based on Jesus’ statements in Matthew's gospel, called the Beatitudes.

 

They were painted in acrylic & ink, or made with acrylic on wood, by English Artist Paul Hobbs in 1996 and 1997. The paintings are 28 x 46 inches in size. 

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9.

JUBILATE

‘Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ (Matt 5:12)

Celebration, fun, party poppers! It’s all worth it! This is a celebration of the joy that is both present and future for those who are determined to live for Christ whatever the cost. 

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8.

PERSECUTED / INSULTED

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.’ (Matthew 5:10-11)

Hidden amid the tension of fragmented shapes, twisted forms, agonised faces and wrought hands, there is a large yellow shape that combines a crown and gatehouse. In the pain of persecution it is hard to remember the promised and certain reward for those persecuted for righteousness is the kingdom of heaven. 

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7.

PEACEMAKERS

‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.’ (Matthew 5:9)

The rounded, musical looking shapes in the top half of the picture are opposed and threatened by the pointed, angular, aggressive shapes at the bottom. Between the two sides is a vast dark gulf into which some of the pieces from either side have fallen. The red lines are like a long ribbon or shoelace, threaded through the two sides, gradually pulling the two together.

 

The lines represent the Peacemakers, drawing the two sides together. It will be an uncomfortable union at first, and peacemaking is always costly, not least to the peacemakers themselves, here symbolised in red for suffering or martyrdom.

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‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.’ (Matthew 5:7)

5.

THE MERCIFUL

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.’ (Matthew 5:7)

The large blue arms represent the merciful arms of God the Father gathering, shielding and protecting the fragmented abstract shapes in the upper part of the picture. These abstract shapes are made up of layers of overlapping colour painted around outlines of map sections. Several maps of the world have been drawn and painted over each other, creating a broken, fragmented mass. It is this that is being shielded.

 

In the background the arrows and white dashes are there to suggest a sense of weeping and loss, in recognition of the need for mercy and restoration.

 

The Bible speaks of how we cannot earn God’s mercy, because we can never attain the righteousness God demands; but we can claim his mercy and forgiveness for our wrongdoing on the basis of Christ’s death and sacrifice at the crucifixion. The Beatitude teaches that those who are merciful are the ones who recognise their own need for mercy and then demonstrate this to others by showing them mercy too.

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6.

THE PURE IN HEART

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’ (Matthew 5:8)

The pure are represented by the yellow and white shapes, glowing white hot, as if in a molten cauldron, as they are made pure by the blood of Christ, that surrounds them. The shape is similar to that of an eye, for they will see God. Its brightness shows its purity compared with the surrounding areas of purple and grey, behind whose surface colour, lie lots of broken and fragmented images. Some of the yellow has spread from the central ‘heart’ area into the rest of the picture, just as purity spreads outwards to affect other people.

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4.

HUNGER AND THIRST

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.’ (Matthew 5:6)

The skeletal structures in front suggest hunger and desperation. Yet the warmth of colour and the shape on the horizon (which matches and completes the other shapes), relate to the promise that 'those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… will be filled.' This is not just any old hunger – it is a hungering for righteousness, for God’s will to be done. It is a good thing in itself, but also will, one day, be rewarded with God’s provision.

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3.

THE MEEK WILL INHERIT

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5:5)

A number of impressive multi-coloured and patterned shapes lie tumbled together. In the foreground a round, ball-like shape lies alone, relatively insignificant. The blocks suggest buildings, even great cities.  Has the ball knocked them over? And can they be rebuilt into something impressive again? The pattern on the ball is distinct from the other patterns, to suggest new freedom, fluidity, and freshness. 

 

This picture celebrates the fact that God often chooses small insignificant situations or people to achieve great changes or reversals in the world. What can we do to challenge and rebuild wrong situations in our world?

Those That Mourn

2.

THOSE THAT MOURN

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ (Matthew 5:4) 

The main shapes contain broken, distressed forms (one like a corpse). Each is topped with a black shroud. Paint runs like blood or tears, and appears to be mopped up by the yellow, sponge-like shapes below. This mourning is for sin as much as for death; for in the Old Testament, people wore sackcloth and ashes, either to repent of sin or to mourn the death of a loved one. 

The Things That Are Not = poor in spirit

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ (Matthew 5:3) 

1.

THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT

The foreground symbolises ‘the poor in spirit’, humble, like a ploughed field, ready for God to work in them. No large pieces are standing proud. The land is broken up and fertile, ready for growth. The yellow shape in the sky represents the promised Kingdom of Heaven - a shape made from a crown and a gatehouse, not a castle, but a kingdom. The sky has a number of squares in it. I think of these as windows of faith.  You can see the frame, but not through it, fully.