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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

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“Life is painful. It has thorns, like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself.” 

― Daisaku Ikeda

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I was going to write more about this painting– Split the Darkness, which is part of my current show at the Principle Gallery–and the thought behind it but the words above from Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda pretty much sums up what I was thinking. And in a much more concise way. In short, to fully experience life we must endure the pain that is part of it, the suffering and loss that comes to us all. The art we create is a reflection of our experience, our humanity.

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GC Myers Shambhala smJust a reminder that my show, Traveler, is currently on view at the Principle Gallery and will be hanging there until July 9th.  One of the pieces still available is the piece above,  Shambhala, an 18″ by 36″ canvas piece that I wrote about on this blog back in early March.   It’s a painting that I feel very strongly about.  Since that was three months before the show went up, I thought I might replay that post today.  In March, I wrote:

According to Buddhist tradition, Shambhala is name given to what they consider the Pure Land, a utopia of sorts whose reality is as much spiritual as it is physical.  A place where everyone achieves a state of enlightenment and peace and tranquility.  Author James Hilton morphed the name into Shangri-La for his novel Lost Horizon which describes a group of Westerners who find themselves the guests in a small idyllic nation of this name tucked away in a protected Himalayan valley.

Whatever you call it, the idea of a place of enlightenment and peace seems pretty attractive to me these days, given the many events going on in the world being driven forward by such negative factors as greed, hate and fear.  That tranquil inner place is what I see in this new painting, an 18″ by 36″ canvas that carries this name, Shambhala.  The road , for me, represents the search that leads to this elusive state and the sun  a blissful guide with a warm lure that radiates throughout the sky.  The Red Tree is on a small peninsula set into a calm body of water, still attached to the world  but in an ethereal space.  It is in a state of being where it is firmly in the moment, having set aside the past and disregarding the future.  Just absorbing the now.

That’s what I see and that is what I imagine how that moment might feel but I am still on that path, looking ahead for a sight of that hopeful destination.

 

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GC Myers- Into the Pure Land smI’ve had this newer painting in the studio for a few weeks now and it has become one of those pieces where my eyes often come to rest.  That’s something I wasn’t so sure would be the case when I was painting it.  In the earliest stages when I compose the piece by blocking in the forms with a red oxide paint, it felt stiff and lifeless.  This is not necessarily strange at this point in my process but this piece felt even more so.  But with each change in the surface, each layer of paint added, it gained life and depth.

By the its finish, it was instantly drawing me inward.  It had such a meditative effect that I began to think of it in terms of mantras and focal points.  But ultimately, I began to see it as an endpoint, a desired place of attainment.  As a result, I settled on Into the Pure Land as a title for this 10″ by 20″ piece.

In some forms of Buddhism, there are seven levels of heaven, whose name takes on a different meaning than the one denoting paradise that we often associate with the word heaven.  Their heavens are those realms of cyclical existence where a being is reincarnated time after time, hopefully gaining wisdom with each incarnation.  If the being is able to gain total enlightenment, nirvana,  he moves beyond the heavens and into the Pure Lands, which are the eternal abodes of the Buddhas.  This would be closer to the traditional heaven that most likely comes to mind.

This piece has that feel for me, an idyllic place attained by working to pass  through many levels, represented here by the path passing through the layers in the landscape’s foreground.  The radiating bands in the sky represent the eternal pull forward through these layers, almost as a visual mantra that focuses the attention on reaching the endpoint of enlightenment, which I see here as the sun over the horizon.

Mind you, this is only my simplistic take on the concepts of a religion.  The five cent version.  But these terms strike a chord in me when I look into this painting.  Maybe that is my response alone, my personal reaction to my own expression.  For others, it might be a painting that makes them feel a little joy or just an attractive piece with a graphic feel.  Or it just might not be their cup of tea, period.  All are fine with me.  I’m just thinking about entering into that pure land…

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GC Myers Shambhala smAccording to Buddhist tradition, Shambhala is name given to what they consider the Pure Land, a utopia of sorts whose reality is as much spiritual as it is physical.  A place where everyone achieves a state of enlightenment and peace and tranquility.  Author James Hilton morphed the name into Shangri-La for his novel Lost Horizon which describes a group of Westerners who find themselves the guests in a small idyllic nation of this name tucked away in a protected Himalayan valley.

Whatever you call it, the idea of a place of enlightenment and peace seems pretty attractive to me these days, given the many events going on in the world being driven forward by such negative factors as greed, hate and fear.  That tranquil inner place is what I see in this new painting, an 18″ by 36″ canvas that carries this name, Shambhala.  The road , for me, represents the search that leads to this elusive state and the sun  a blissful guide with a warm lure that radiates throughout the sky.  The Red Tree is on a small peninsula set into a calm body of water, still attached to the world  but in an ethereal space.  It is in a state of being where it is firmly in the moment, having set aside the past and disregarding the future.  Just absorbing the now.

That’s what I see and that is what I imagine how that moment might feel but I am still on that path, looking ahead for a sight of that hopeful destination.

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9913-181 Samadhi smThis new painting, a thin slice at 4″ by 24″ on paper,  is called Samadhi and is part of my show, Observers, that opens Friday at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  It was one of those pieces that I start then somehow lose its momentum during the process.  The first movements  come easily and a flow is developing and it seems as though it will soon reveal its true self.  Then suddenly it’s gone.  There is no obvious next move  and the surface gives me no hints, has no voice for the time being.   Even the marks that are made have lost all animation, seeming lifeless.  All I can do is put it aside with the hope that at some point it would call out and want to emerge fully realized.

And that is how this piece evolved.  It shined than dulled then suddenly became energized once more.  The end result seems effortless and graceful but coming to this end was a struggle to clear the mind so that it might come through.

I suppose that is where the title, Samadhi, comes in.  Samadhi is a Hindu/ Buddhist  term that represents a meditative one-mindedness, a connection with the ultimate reality of things.  A union with the divine.

Now, I am not a Buddhist or schooled in Eastern religion so I am not going into a long explanation here.  It’s a word that describes  a fragile, fleeting state of being, one that suddenly appears for those who have the ability to release the binders of self  and enter a meditative state where they are not in the moment but are the moment, bound with everything around them and beyond.

It seems so easy but  becomes impossible with too much effort, too much struggle.

And that is what I saw with this painting.  I struggled with it and it became more and more distant and alien.  But I set it aside and came back with a clear mind and no expectation.  It would be what it would be.  And what emerged reflected this attitude.

Calm.  Accepting. Ethereal and always in the present, the continuum of the past and the future connected in the moment.

Samadhi…

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