Angel, St Antoine Church, Istanbul
Duration: 17 December 2019 - 30 January 2020
Participating artists: Bilge Alkor, Ergin İnan, Lithian Ricci, Luca Pignatelli, Mehmet Sinan Kuran, Pınar Yoldaş, Yuval Avital, Güvenç Özel, Mehrnoush Esmaeilpour, Kimathi Mafafo, Shirin Abedinirad
Guest Artists Iulian Pışta OFMConv. & Sinan Polvan
The word “Angel” is in Greek “angelos”, in Latin “angelus”, “nuncius” (ambassador) and “legatus” (messenger), in Hebrew “mal'akh”, in Sanskrit “angiras” (divine spirit) and in Persian language “angaros” (postman, messenger).
In the theistic beliefs based on revelation, the function of establishing a relationship between God and man is attributed to angels. Angelic characteristics of monotheism were attributed to antropomorphic demigods in polytheist beliefs. In pantheistic, panentheistic and monistic beliefs, the role of angels has disappeared since there is no intermediary between man and god.
Throughout history, depictions of angels have also caused controversy. Angels have been described as human in some sources, winged in others, and sometimes only as a mass of light. For example, in Ezekiel's Book Tan in Tanah, angels are depicted in human form, with four faces (man, bull, lion, eagle) and bronze-colored shiny skin and four wings, while in the first book of the Torah “Genesis”, they are described as wingless. In the New Testament ,Jesus teaches that angels "do not have bodies and bones like humans because they are spiritual beings." In the Canonical Gospels, it is often said that angels are in the form of very bright white light . In one verse of the Qur'an, the angels are described as ambassadors with two, three, and sometimes four wings.
The first portrayal of an angel in Western art dates back to the 3rd century, in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome as Gabriel, who gave the good news to Mary. The first depictions of winged angels are two relief figures on the Sarcophagus of Sarıgüzel from the period of Theododius I (379-395), which was discovered in Istanbul and is now in Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
When we talk about the depictions of angels in art history, it is necessary to mention “ Fallen Angels ”. Detailed information related to Fallen Angels, the giants begotten from their chosen terrestrial mates and how these provoked perversities on earth leading to God's curse and their expulsion from paradise are to be found in the Book of Enoch, Dead Sea Scrolls and Hebrew Myths. In fact, Lucifer, who was an angel, later opposed God, went into a battle with Archangel Michael and fell from Paradise together with the rebellious angels, has been a favorite theme of many artists who performed works with religious themes in different styles and periods.
Like metaphors used in religious texts, the forms and appearances of the angels that we see in art history are actually symbolic depictions of functions imposed on the concept of “angel”. Mankind thinks to reach the Gods presumed to be high in the sky by flying and therefore is attributing the wings of the birds to angels.
As long as there is duality in the nature of human beings, angel and devil depictions in art will not cease.