Father Robert Keffer, O.S.B., will present a free lecture, “The Chiaroscuro of God: Light and Shadow, Sin and Redemption in the Sacred Art of Michelangelo Merisi Di Caravaggio,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 1 at Luparello Lecture Hall, Saint Vincent College.
Father Robert, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, will talk about exploring the use of light and shadow, known as chiaroscuro, in the religious works of Caravaggio, and their deep spiritual significance. Caravaggio was an artist of personal and profound imagery, and a visual window to Catholic Counter Reformation theology, the turbulent religious and political atmosphere of 16th century Italy, and the conflicts between official religious art and the spiritual needs and artistic tastes of the common people.
Father Robert believes that the dramatic use light and dark found in Caravaggio’s work is indicative of the artist’s own mental and spiritual anguish, as well as the artistic representational tension between flesh and spirit, sin and salvation, and life and death. Caravaggio’s dark shadows and sober style always lead to the dramatic light that only Christ’s redemption can give. It is fitting then, that this lecture will occur on the eve of the Feast of the Presentation, Father Robert said, where we leave the darkness of winter and come closer to Spring, the Catholic Church celebrates the coming of the light of Christ into the world.
This lecture will be of interest not only to artists and art lovers, but to everyone interested in how art intersects with theology, philosophy and history.
Father Robert is a painter and art lecturer and is currently directing the Saint Vincent Gallery, serving as a chaplain at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital, and is sacramental minister to Saint Michael’s and Saint Mary’s Catholic churches in West Salisbury. He is scheduled to continue his artistic education at the Savannah School of Art and Design, in Savannah, Georgia, this fall.