Robert Lentz is a painter of Byzantine icons. He is a Franciscan Friar, a scholar of Christian history and theology, and an advocate for those living on the margins of traditional religious institutions. An artist with a kind, caring and hopeful outlook on God’s message, Robert lives a life full of inspiration that has shaped the stories told through his work.
“I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been creative in some way – finding great satisfaction in making beautiful things.” – Br. Robert Lentz
Robert was born in 1946 in Colorado. From the beginning, his life was full of rich religious experience and devout belief. It was his grandmother who first inspired him to live a contemplative religious life. He remembers as a child wondering what happens when a person is touched by God. He was always creating – from crayon masterpieces to woodcarvings. There is not a time in his memory when art and religion were not woven into his life.
Robert is a man who transcends traditional religious order. His beliefs are firmly rooted in Orthodox tradition, but his work doesn’t fit their molds. He has settled into the Roman Catholic Church and does his iconography with the support of the Holy Name Province of the Franciscan Order.
The icons that he creates are a deep reflection of his rich background and his struggles to find his place in the church. As a Franciscan friar, Robert believes that holiness is open to all human beings, not just those who fit the traditional mold of piety. The icons that he creates echo that belief, and help reveal that life is a series of personal struggles, but in those struggles we find our saints.
Robert’s work is often considered controversial or political. His icons cross religious, social and ethnic lines in a way that sometimes makes people uncomfortable. From where Robert sits, he is simply painting people he believes embody the Christian spirit – regardless of their own religious or ethnic identities. He has said that his icons will afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
Robert’s artwork is his life’s passion. Each piece is special, and each piece is only created after Robert has spent time in prayerful contemplation, making sure it is an icon he can fully stand behind. The subjects of his icons range from the expected to the unexpected, but his intention has never been to shock or to start a political discussion – he simply wants to create icons that all people can strive to emulate.
This blog is designed to keep you up-to-date on what Robert is doing and to give you some extra insight into the life of an artist – Portrait of an Iconographer. Make sure you subscribe on the right side of this page to receive updates on new posts and emails from Robert.