David Wojkowicz challenges the way we visualize sacred narrative. In an age when we have grown lazy from easy access to ready-made, representational imagery, the Czech digital artist requires use our imagination, when viewing his abstract depictions of biblical texts. He gives us simple geometric forms, basic outlines, and a specific color palette. Our job is to reconfigure them in our mind’s eye in ways that are meaningful for us and suggest new insights into the texts they illustrate. “I don’t provide a rationale for my artworks,” explains Wojkowicz. “The goal of abstract art is to allow an audience to appreciate paintings without the need for detailed explanations.”
Born in Prague in 1967, Wojkowicz (his artistic pseudonym) was originally a man of words, not images. Following the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, he studied theology at the historic Charles University in the Czech capital with a special interest in the development of Christian doctrine and canon law. Wojkowicz set up a charity in 1990, where he sometimes works, offering Christian literature as audio books to the visually impaired. He has no formal art education. It was his passion for photography, especially taking black and white images of the sea while living in England, which opened the door to abstract digital art.
Capturing the ebb and flow of wave and tide on film fired the imagination of this hobby photographer from a landlocked nation of Central Europe, leading him toward an increasing abstraction of form. When Wojkowicz realized he was looking through his view finder for scenes in the natural world that conformed to a preconceived image in his mind, he decided to cut himself loose from photography and make non-representational art. For the trained theologian, these mental images have become more than pure abstractions. He sees each visualization of a scriptural passage as part of a single set of illustrations of the Bible.
Wojkowicz makes art using a method he developed himself with graphic vector software. None of his digital art pieces is generated automatically. Instead, he uses the most basic drawing tools, creating each visual component by hand in time-consuming detail. Working with a muted color palette and low contrast, he merges seven or more partial images into one, using dissimilarities in the patterns to give depth to the final composition. Reading the Bible or hearing a passage read in church, he will begin to “see” shapes coming together for a new piece of art but never in a random way. Says Wojkowicz: “There is always some symbolism and mathematics behind every one of my images.”
Many of the new media artist's abstract pieces are readily accessible to viewers. It is not hard to envision Joseph, Mary and the Christ child in the cubistic composition of The Nativity (Matthew 1: 18) In The Letter and the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3: 6b) a curvilinear form like a sprouting seed stands out against an inert rectangular brown background. Blended stripes of warm colors on a deep blue-purple background evoke lanterns at a nighttime vigil in Waiting for Christ (Jude 1:20-21). The peaks and troughs in the massive blocks of A Voice in the Wilderness (Isaiah 40: 3-4) resemble seismographic markings that indicate just how earth-shaking this message will be.
Other purely abstract images free our minds from distracting associations and move us to a new level of awareness of the mysteries of divine activity in the cosmos. In The First Day (Genesis 1:3-5) white and black triangles on a globular form in multi-toned shards of blue suggest the separation of day from night at the beginning of Creation. Wojkowicz layers textured squares of increasingly lighter shades of green as the verdant background for a trefoil arrow pointed at a dark circle in Logos (John 1:1-2), evoking the New Testament origins story. In the blue on blue squares within squares of Talking Heavens (Psalm 19: 1-4), we see the building blocks of the universe telling of the glory of God.
The prints come with titles and biblical texts that can serve as interpretive tools. The grid of crisscrossing lines in Following Jesus (Mark 8:34-35) makes immediate sense when we learn the Gospel passage talks about taking up your cross. Looking at Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) you might see the brilliant red triangle surrounded by dark geometric forms as a variation of Mocking of Christ imagery. The red wedge might also suggest the wound in Christ's side or even his Sacred Heart. The artist does not intend these biblical prints to be visual puzzles to be solved or riddles with one right answer. They can have meanings as multiple as there are viewers. Says Wojkowicz: "A true artist is not someone who understands their art better than anyone else."