Modern Art vs. Religion: On the Conflict Between Artistic Expression and Religious Fundamentalism
Siddhartha V. Shah, Lecturer on Sacred Art
Original date: Thursday, June 19, 2008

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Across the world, artists have long sought to express the beauty of the Divine through art. An ancient tradition of depicting deities has thrived for generations and continues even today. However, with the rise of conservative religion across the globe, many now view modern artists as a threat to religion. Artists who seek to present the deities in a more accessible way for the modern public receive death threats and are often put in prisons by those who follow the same religious traditions. Art, which by its very nature breaks tradition, is under attack. This presentation discusses the work of some controversial artists in India and Nepal, questions the boundaries between the evocative and the offensive, and seeks to support a new interpretation of religious art toward a new and ever-evolving contemporary spirituality.

Siddhartha V. Shah studied at Johns Hopkins University, focusing on representation of gods and goddesses, and holds a Masters degree from the California Institute of Integral Studies in East-West Psychology. Raised in the Hindu tradition, and having spent much of his life in India and Europe, he brings a fresh interpretation of Eastern traditions that can be understood and integrated in the West. He specializes in sacred art under the mentorship of renowned painter and writer Robert Beer, and travels around the world lecturing on the role of sacred art in spiritual practice.

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