Why on Earth Does God Have to Paint?, Centripetal Art

By Ellens, J. Harold | Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Why on Earth Does God Have to Paint?, Centripetal Art


Ellens, J. Harold, Journal of Psychology and Christianity


WHY ON EARTH DOES GOD HAVE TO PAINT?, CENTRIPETAL ART, Rafael Chodos, Malibu, CA: Giotto Multimedia, 2009, pp xi + 340, Cloth, $35. 00. Reviewed by J. Harold Ellens.

Rafael Chodos is a noted independent humanist scholar, an eminent attorney, and a prolific author in the field of fiduciary law, Torah and biblical studies, and the aesthetics of fine art. Thus he has the good taste to have married an amazingly profound artist, Junko Chodos, who specializes in paintings of deep philosophical expression and exploration. Her extensive repertoire of brilliant works manifests the metamorphosis of her spirit and her sense of the meaning of life, developed from her childhood in the Japanese travail of WWII, to her immigration to the USA as a young adult art student, marriage, and maturation as a leading American contributor to the world of art museums and national personal art shows.

This present volume is a remarkably lovely publication. It is a palpable aesthetic inspiration to view it, hold it, savor the delicate beauty evident in the quality of the jacket, the cover, every delightful page of its content, and the sophisticated scholarly end papers. The physical experience of this volume is that of an objet d'art in itself, apart from its even more magnificent color plates and profound philosophical text. No one who cares about meaning and beauty can afford to be without this book. Moreover, it is the sort of book one would expect to cost $125.00, and is available for a very modest fraction of that price.

Dr. Chodos has crafted this volume in a Foreword, seven chapters in three parts, and an Afterword. Part One is entitled The Surface Layers and contains three chapters: Objects as Visitants, Biography and Cultural Influences, and Techniques and Styles. The chapter titles in Part Two, The Deeper Layers, are equally suggestive and articulate but more deeply philosophical: Narrative - Resolution and Transcendence, A Vital Spirituality, A Complex Spirituality, and The Role and Mission of the Artist. The Afterword, placed at the end of Part Two is entitled The Furnace. Part Three describes The Physiology of the Book, including the life history of the artist, Junko Chodos, and her art shows, the story of the author and his development as an aesthete, and 45 pages of end notes, scholarly bibliography, list of citations from the writings of the artist, a glossary of Japanese terms used in the volume, and an illustrated catalogue of the artists work with a chronological list of the numerous series of her prolific productivity. This volume is a precious work of art in itself, and is finished neatly with a useful index and graphic four page display of the progression of the development of the nearly twenty series of paintings. Each series containing from ten to fifty large wallsized works.

Why on Earth Does God have to Paint? is, on the one hand, a presentation of the literal and symbolic significance of Junko Chodos' personal journey; and on the other hand, a philosophical reflection on the meaning of the human pilgrimage from the primal to the transcendent. It is an articulation of the travail of what John Kennedy described as the "tragic adventure" of human existence. Junko's story is a moving experience of "our common human terror and our common hope", as Barbara Mertz once put it when describing the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics on life and death. Reading this book and viewing the 160 articulate full color plates that illustrate it moves one deeply and is a spiritual inspiration. The author's aesthetic philosophy fills the reader with a sense of having grappled with the fundamenta of the material, moral, and spiritual universes.

The artists Odyssey alone is emotionally gripping. She was a young child in Tokyo during the Allied bombings in WWII and was psychologically traumatized by encountering her uncle, a physician, killing a chicken for the extended family's sparse dinner. She was overcome with a sense of horror that made her phobic of all birds until her mid-life. …

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