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  • Writer's picturePaul G. Chandler

Baba’s Art School – 101: #6

“You can’t begin too soon to encourage an appreciation of art! And each artwork has a story.”

We are beginning the four-week season of Advent…a period of waiting...and also a time of hope and expectation.

So, it seemed most apropos for this Baba to introduce his two grandkids to an abstract painting in his collection titled “Advent” by Fr. Peter W. Gray. What do you get when you combine a priest, a philosopher and a painter? Well, you get Fr. Peter Gray. He is a US Sulpician priest (Society of Saint Sulpice), who lives in Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. in Philosophy and the Arts from the G.T.U. in Berkeley, he is known internationally, both for his contemporary realism and also for his abstract works. His work can tantalize your senses with its freshness and powerful vivid colors.

Art is his full-time vocational ministry, and he spends hours a day working on a paint-splattered kitchen table to create art. Fr. Gray said he “subconsciously prays” with each brushstroke. He received a papal commission to do a portrait of Pope Francis which now hangs in the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C.

His work as a playful side too. Fr. Gray sometimes incorporates the faces of Hollywood stars in his religious art. For example, a painting of St. Luke features the face of Ben Affleck, and a painting of St. Mark resembles Keanu Reeves.

As a now 70-year-old artist-priest, Fr. Gray says he is laboring feverishly to produce as many works of beauty as is possible while he has the ability.

Fr. Gray says, “My mentors are Matisse, de Kooning and Rothko, with a special nod to Auerbach and Mario Sironi…I do not paint to amuse myself or stop boredom, for me art is not a hobby or even decoration. For me, art is a deep communication of the reality I see and contain and shape with color reflecting my inner life; it is painting the 'inside-out.’”

“I’m not doing this art for me,” he said. “It’s going to help save people.”


Peter W. Gray, S.S., “Advent,” 2015

Oil on canvas, 20” x 46.5”


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