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Archive for June 11th, 2020

“The Exile’s Wilderness”- Now at the Principle Gallery

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“From the moment that man believes neither in God nor in immortal life, he becomes ‘responsible for everything alive, for everything that, born of suffering, is condemned to suffer from life.’ It is he, and he alone, who must discover law and order. Then the time of exile begins, the endless search for justification, the aimless nostalgia, ‘the most painful, the most heartbreaking question, that of the heart which asks itself: where can I feel at home?”

Albert Camus, The Rebel

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I came across the excerpt above from The Rebel from Albert Camus while searching for something to accompany the painting at the top, The Exile’s Wilderness, which is part of my current exhibit hanging at the Principle Gallery.

This short paragraph stopped me in my tracks and I found myself reading the words and phrasing of it over and over again this morning. It summed up so well the feeling that I take from this painting and that sense of exile, of separateness, that I have often experienced.

The search for justification, the sometimes pointless nostalgia of memory, the feeling of being responsible for everything alive and for setting things in some sort of order– they all feel too familiar.

But it’s that final question that stirred me most: Where can I feel at home?

It is a heartbreaking question. I believe most of us take for granted that feeling of comfort and of being at home. But for the Exile it is an elusive thing, perhaps even an impossibility. In the absence of the real comfort of home they settle for the security found in hiding or in blending in, hiding in plain sight with large and faceless crowds.

That’s the wilderness to which I refer in this painting– a place for the Exile to hide and find security in a world where they may never feel truly at home.

And odd as this may sound, there is great comfort in this. Just having a place where one feels safe and secure is a desirable state of being for most of us because in such an environment we can create and define our own sense of home.

If you think about many of the problems facing us today, most come down to conflicts between people rightly seeking that sense of home, of safety and security, for themselves and those who would deny them that right.

There’s a lot to read into this painting, more than it lets on at first glance. Much like the Exile walking unseen and unnoticed among the crowd.

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