Ulrich Leive's *Holy Bible*

God ...
God is love! - 1. John © Ulrich Leive
... is love!
And he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

What do artists do? Painters try to show what they feel, there are no limits concerning shapes and colors and contents. Well, that`s fine - but is it enough? Don't we need everlasting themes and stories to tell, is it all just a game to play?

A friend convinced me to read the Bible. The book of books, the basement of our culture in the west, the occident. "Why do you paint pictures of anything? Paint pictures from the bible. There you will find everything that man encounters in life, there is love and tenderness, violence and hatred, jealoucy and goodness and all of all!" - Yes, okay. I had to agree.

When I looked for paintings from the bible, I didn't find many in contemporary art. Marc Chagall, yes, at least one man, who touched me deep inside. But there were so many painters in the centuries before, from 14th up to 16th century. There I found many German, Flemish, Spanish and Italian artists. I thought it was time for a new start, painting the bible, the whole bible, not just a few pictures here and there!

In 1980 I started painting like a child, without any worries. I looked for themes and made a list of them while I was reading the bible. In the end I had a list of 750 themes. Lot of work to do. That didn't daunt me at all.

My way of painting was simple. I started with watercolors and sheets of paper. Colorful and without worrying I composed my scenes and actions from the stories I read. In the beginning it looked strange, sometimes a bit unskillful. That didn't bother me. I was just like the artists of the ancient times, who wanted to tell stories, or like the cavemen, meaning that I wanted to tell a story in my own special way. I had no ambition to paint in a sophisticated way like the old masters from the past centuries. I had a naive spirit but not like the painting of the naive painters like Henri Rousseau. My pictures resembled a comic strip.

According to the guys from the caves, painting is magic, not primarily concerned with beauty and aesthetics and perfection, I think. It deals with reality and dreams, you can open doors to hidden realms. That is also the main attraction for looking at paintings, I guess.

When I painted my pictures, I was rather isolated and did not take much notice from the world around me. I had to gather energy to create my large work. I had to live in my bible, almost entirely. I did. My intentions were not to illustrate the text with charming pictures. No. I wanted to create my own bible world. That meant ignoring any views of other people, and risking to offend. OK. So I created a lot of paintings, that I can't show in public because lots of people would be unsettled and insulted. This is not my intention but the effect, which can't be avoided. So I can only show pictures that can be tolerated by open-minded men.

If people ask me why I painted lots of my figures naked, well, I say I wanted to show man as he came to earth, with an open heart and mind, a child of the great god without hiding anything. What did Michelangelo do? His original nude figures were later ordered to be covered by the pope, who could not accept this.

Later I would cover my figures with the most beautiful clothes, I wanted to show luxury and opulence - to show the brightness of living. From time to time I changed my mind.

Some themes from the bible are so fascinating that I painted a series of them. Beautiful and poetic subjects like The Dream of Jacob when he sees the angels walking up and down the stairway to heaven, or the dramatic Fight between Jacob and the Angel to receive the blessing of god. Or even when Daniel is sitting in the lion's den and the lions do not eat Daniel or his friends who are standing in the midst of the fiery furnace without being burned.

Or for example, when Jesus goes down to hell to free some of the lost souls. This is the arena of horror and fright, a real abyss. It is the same kind of subject in The Crash of Lucifer. This is the beginning of all mess and ugliness and the constant attempt to cheat and spoil mankind. Terrible! But, what a fine stuff to paint pictures with.

The paintings are gouaches, small in size. Later on I painted with acrylics on hardboard, the paintings were a little bit bigger. Lots of my paintings are reminiscent of painting from Marc Chagall. I know this and I won't deny it, I could not evade this milestone and why should I.

In 1989 I completed my series of gouaches from the bible and started a series of Wanderers, which emerged from the subject of the Israelites walking through the deserts for 40 years, being led out by Moses and Aaron, which is called the "Exodus". Now it is all of mankind that permanently cruises the earth, looking for luck and happiness.

I started by painting pictures, a series sometimes, concerning biblical themes, a series like The Face of Jesus Christ, first in 1982/83, then in 1996/97, a series of small works on paper, a number of 153 pictures. And then from 1998 onwards I started a series of Angels, which I am still working on now.

Almost everything I paint is connnected with searching and desiring the devine.

Isaiah - For my thoughts are not your thoughts © Ulrich Leive
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. - (Isaiah 55, 8 - 11)

Self Portrait Ulrich Leive © Ulrich Leive The painter, Ulrich Leive (Self Portrait) was born in Osnabrueck, Germany, in 1957. After studying law he chose to pursue an artistic career. He has received several awards for his work, notably for the painting Holocaust / Shoah. For many years Ulrich Leive's painting has been inspired by themes from the Bible. More than 1,000 watercolors, 500 drawings and approximately 400 acrylic paintings are from this body of work. Many belong to series such as The Face of Jesus Christ.


Old Testament

New Testament

Special Themes

Goldene Linie

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