Ugh. When I see religious art – Sorry if I insult anyone, but it’s my blog and I’m just sharing my opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. – I get goosebumps and want to run away as fast as I can. Sure, you have masterpieces painted by Rubens and Van Eyck – proud Belgian – and I definitely appreciate the colours, how the light influences faces and colour and the atmosphere in their paintings, how the fabrics are so real you can almost touch them, the pure craftmanship and brushstrokes that make a piece of canvas almost a mirror to earlier times. I can admire those paintings. I understand a lot of art with religious subjects has their place in time and has been created under the influence of a spirit of the age. How it’s not done to depict naked / barely clothed women otherwise. I know, I know. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to run away screaming after seeing another Maria with baby Jesus on her arms with a bright halo of light behind her head. I just don’t like it, period. So, why did I visit a museum run by the Archdiocese of Cologne, which has a big collection of religious art and sculptures?
Easy answer: the architecture. The museum is designed by Peter Zumthor – Swiss architectural genius – and built on top of the ruins of the St. Columba church. Which was destroyed in – of course – WWII. Somehow Zumthor always succeeds in bringing a certain serene and calm atmosphere to his buildings and Kolumba is no exception. Clear lines and large windows which make you want to walk on top of the neighbouring roofs. Staircases which may lead to heaven. A reading room where I could stay for hours if it wasn’t situated in a museum. – and I wasn’t carrying a book anyway. – Natural light seeping through small holes between bricks, launching rays of sunlight in an otherwise dim environment. Pure, calm and serene architecture. It makes you think, stand still and wonder.
No surprise the collection wasn’t really my cup of tea, though I have to admit Kolumba has some really nice contemporary pieces. Not only focusing on Christianity, more on the interpretation of what could be. The bigger picture. Art where artists ask themselves questions and help you figure out answers on questions you never asked yourself before. Even though my main reason to visit Kolumba was the architecture, I enjoyed walking around, daydreaming and taking pictures. So, was Kolumba worth visiting? If you love architecture: yes. If you love religious art: yes. If you like to be challenged in thinking differently, to put aside your prejudices for a second and willing to ponder about the things of life: again, yes.
Note: Iphone pictures. Yes, it was from the same visit to Cologne, when I forget to charge my camera’s batteries. I will never do it again, I promise.