Tuesday August 2, 2016

How Do You Represent God?

By Fr. Johann Roten, S.M.

The graphic art of German Expressionist Hans Friedrich Grohs will be on display in the Marian Library through November 13.


Hans Friedrich Grohs (1892-1981) sees and hears in God the Voice of the Universe. What does that voice look like? God is a figure of light, the master of sun, moon, and stars. With opulent hair and beard, he is not unlike Michelangelo's Moses, a figure of tranquil power orchestrating nature and transendence, the finite and the infinite. But take a look at his two hands. One of them shows the back, the other hand is open to the onlooker. This double gesture means that God remains a hidden, a secret God (back of the hand), but he is also a generous God, open-handed and large-hearted. 

The Eternal Being, as Grohs also calls him, is part of the 1923 woodcut series of the Eternal Becoming. Most of the woodcuts exhibited at the Marian Library Gallery are from the Life of Jesus and the Small Dance of Death, two series from the same period. 

Grohs was indeed an artist and mystic. For him, the ascent to the Eternal Being is steeped in prayer which will lead to the inner light or true enlightenment. This journey of the soul is greatly aided by the Promise of Ancestors, an expression which can be translated as the Communion of Saints. In the words of Frauken Grohs, the artist's daughter and undefatigable promoter and guardian of her father's works: "Hans Grohs stands with all his creativity within the Bible and looks out upon the world, upon his Dithmarschen Land,* his very own window of Biblical faith."

– Fr. Johann Roten, S.M., Director of Research and Special Projects at the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute

* A region in the North of Germany

Learn more about this exhibit.

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