1. Answering the first question on Abbot Suger’s request to help with the creation of a new type of sacred buildings it can be complied taking into account the new tendencies of Gothic architecture. This new style of buildings appeared in 12th century after Suger’s innovation. Gothic Architecture took over Romanesque style of buildings and remained the most popular among architects until the Renaissance. But before all of this was known, I have to help aboot Suger with his new idea. Designing St. Denis’ Cathedral in France was a challenging task for me as an architect. Still, it was definitely worth hard work.
In contrast to the old Romanesque style, our Cathedral will have large stain glass windows. The glass is translucent so the windows will pass more light inside and also they will be a message itself. I want them to look like paintings. That is why I will use different colours and construct pictures with them. We can make images of saints or kings in their rich chasubles. It will be impressive and adding majesty to the religious services. Through the usage of coloured glass Suger could explain how God came in the world in a human nature. As the light passes through the material of the glass and yet maintains its illuminating properties, God was born from Mary as a human child but kept his divinity.
Also I would advise Suger my new project which is the pointed arch building. I have seen some of those already in Muslim sacred buildings. (Some researches claim that the Gothic style was influenced by Islamic architecture where the pointed arch was used earlier). With the tall and sharp arch we will fulfill Abbot Suger’s idea to inspire people and increase spirituality by showing people how great is the Creator, who reins above all in heaven and how small is a person downearth. When entering a church like this one would have an impression of being a tiny creature comparing to the church’s height. This design is very symbolic. The Gothic church represents the universe, where a human plays an insignificant role. A theological message we will pass would be showing the glory of almighty God.
Suger also wants to design a different façade of his church. I suggest having a wheel glass window or the rose window as we can call it, plenty of sculptures in front and a pointed arch. Thus the façade will combine both round arches and pointed arches of the new style.
So, the main features of our new ecclesiastical architecture will be the pointed arch and stained glass windows. Also I will add some ribbed vaults and buttresses and carved doors. Not to forget the sculpture. Another striking aspect of our decoration would be the sculpture. Visual representation of Biblical motives is important means of encouraging worship and teaching theological concepts. The sculptures will present the most important figures of the Bible.
The appearance of a church needs to be changed completely and serve the new needs of our society. This style of building also resembled our world with its structure and order. I think soon not only religious buildings like cathedrals, churches and monasteries but castles and palaces throughout Europe as well will be characterised by pointed arches. It is a new beginning which will be sustained and admired for ages.
2. As imam, i.e. a leader of a Muslim community, I have to respond to the words of Benedict XVI, the pope of Christian church, addressed to us, Muslims, and containing wrong conceptions about our religion. Firstly, I would like to emphasize the role of our prophet Muhammad. He was sent by God to people to convey the divine message which he received through the revelation. The message he brought is not evil, it is recorded in Hadith and completes the direct words of God collected in Quran. His message is innovative and vital for our lives. The essence of Islam lies in our belief. We accept surrender to the will of Allah, who is our creator and sustainer.
The true nature of Islam lies in the five pillars, which constitute the key acts in Islam and are obligatory for all believers include the creed, daily prayer, almsgiving, fasting during Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Actually I have to note that some of those statements are closely linked to Christianity. For instance, Christian are encouraged to fast in some periods during the year, to take part in pilgrimages to miraculous places. Also there is a Christian creed and a daily prayer. The similarity to Christianity can be noticed in gathering for a prayer in a sacred building. Also I have to admit that Islam is similar to Christianity in our belief in angels, following Scriptures, reading the words of prophets and waiting for the Last day of Judgement.
Our sacred buildings are called mosques. They are the places of worship, usually having one or more minarets and often decorated with elaborate tracery and texts from the Quran. In contrast to Christian churches there are no paintings or icons. The paintings inside are mostly green and blue with the stars on top. Usually they represent the earth and heaven thus creating a microcosm inside. Our sacred buildings always have the mihrab, i.e. a niche which is reserved for imam to lead the prayer. It is always constructed in the direction of Mecca and the area on a top of it must not be roofed. One more detail to note is that we always take off our shoes when entering a mosque. We do this because the place we step in is sacred. A minaret is a tower from which people can hear the call to prayer. A sound from minaret can be heard much further away than if it were performed from the mosque. Otherwise the minaret has no more function.
3. For the presentation of the art of Italian High Renaissance features I have chosen the masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel The creation of Adam as it fully represents the key characteristics on a new artistic epoque. This painting belongs to an Italian painter Michelangelo Buonarroti. It was carried out as a part of a series of ceiling frescos for the Sistine Chapel in Vatican, Rome. It was completed in 1510-1512 and its sizes are 280x570 cm. The painting illustrates a famous scene from the Bible, the book of Genesis. The work symbolizes a man who is created in the image of God. Also the image of nearly touched hands of God and Adam has become a sign of humanity. Artists claim that “the non-quite meeting of hands” in this picture is “the most famous detail in Western art and contribute various interpretations. At the same time it is not a hand-shake which suggests that God and Adam are not on the same level. What is the most fascinating in this painting is the beauty of a naked body: while God is dressed, Adam stays completely nude. This work perfectly depicts the new trend of art and the beginning of Renaissance. The main characteristics of this artistic style are the usage of naked, completely human bodies, bringing back certain elements of ancient though and culture. Even saints or God is our case in painted very real, as a human, with a physical body.
This painting fully shows the evolution of Italian Humanism and the revolution in the artistic life. Humanist philosophy is concentrated upon the value of human beings and returning to the sources – ancient times of Greek and Roman prosperity. If one looks at the forms, colors and proportions of Adam’s body, he or she will definitely notice the light and shade effects, the complexity of composition, the variety of anatomical details. The body was worshipped in ancient classical world of Greece, the same reappears in the Renaissance paintings and other artworks.
Renaissance style also is famous for the emphasis on symmetry and proportion, harmony and balance. The body parts become very proportional. Reviving the order of past (ancient) times, which were considered golden in comparison to the medieval days was very typical for the paintings and architectural objects.