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Posts Tagged ‘Demian’

“Seeking the Design”- At the West End Gallery



As the peculiar faculty of the eye is to see form and colour, and of the ear to hear sweet tones and voices, so is aspiration peculiar to the soul.

–Meister Johann Eckhart



Don’t have a lot of time this morning but wanted to just share a few lines from Meister Johann Eckhart who was a German theologian/philosopher that lived in the second half of the the 13th century, dying around 1328 while waiting to hear the verdict on charges of heresy set against him. In more modern times Meister Eckhart has undergone a revival, being hailed in some circles as a mystic.

I don’t know about that but I do find his observations are often quite insightful and sometimes align closely with my own thoughts on certain subjects, especially on artistic expression– though I believe he is describing religious expression but let’s not split hairs, okay?– and the creative process. 

For example:

To be properly expressed a thing must proceed from within, moved by its form: it must come, not in from without but out from within.

This pretty much sums up what I have been saying for some time, that our real artistic voice takes in influences from without but synthesizes and adds to them inside ourselves to create a unique expression of self.

Or there’s this:

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing. 

That sounds very much like a line from Hermann Hesse’s Demian — Hesse probably pinched the idea from the old Meister– that has hung with me for a long time: Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world. Real change in this world and in one’s singular life demands a willingness to leave the past behind completely. 

Then there’s this one:

When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image.

This couples well with the line at the top about the aspiration of the soul. I have always held on the belief that if we truly want something of great significance in our lives, we internally and externally create the conditions for us to reach some form of that desire. I believe this actually a popular concept among modern self-help gurus but, of course, it’s not so quick or easy as they make it sound. The real proof is often decades in coming to fruition and even then it may appear in a form that you didn’t realize was your desire at the beginning.

But the soul knows better what the soul wants and needs.

Okay, there are a lot more examples from Meister Eckhart — for example, a relevant fave: Form is a revelation of essence –but I have to get to work, to express my peculiar faculty of the eye and attempt to reveal my essence. His words, not mine.

You go do what you do and try to have a good day in the process.

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“One never reaches home,’ she said. ‘But where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect, the whole world looks like home, for a time.”

-Hermann Hesse, Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth



The painting at the top, Home in Sight, is a new small piece that is headed to the West End Gallery for their annual Little Gems show which opens in February. The words above are from a Hermann Hesse book that holds a special place in my heart, a book that served a very important purpose for me when I was struggling at my lowest point. 

It helped me find my way home. 

Often, when I employ the concept of home in my work, that book comes to mind. And I am always so grateful then for what it did for me then. And now because without it there may well not have been a now.

And that’s sort of what I see in this little gem.

Let’s leave it at that today.

Have a good day wherever your home may be.

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This quote came from Hermann Hesse‘s most famous book, Steppenwolf. A great book but my favorite Hesse book is Demian, which I have referenced here a couple of times in the past. It was a book that I read at a time when I was at a crossroads in my life and it was very influential in my heading in the direction which led to this point. I think this quote very much jibes with my perception of the world portrayed in my work, that being that it is a real entity, a real place.

It has as much substance as the outer world to me. It has depth and layers. It has breath and light. It has emotion and its truth comes the fact that it is a precise portrayal of itself– not a replication of the outer world.

It just is.

That may sound nutty or perhaps egotistical to some. I get that. But without this belief in the reality of this inner world, the validity of the work to myself comes undone. It fades to nothingness and certainly doesn’t move across the void to the viewer. It loses all meaning for everyone, myself included, without this certainty in its being real.

I’m going to stop at this point. I may have said too much already, maybe too much for the outer world. In here, in my little inner world of colors and shapes, it sounds right…

*************

This post was from about five years back. I reread it for the first time again this morning and thought it deserved another run.

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GC Myers- CainI brought up a reference in last week’s Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery that I would share here again.  It’s about a posting that appeared here about five years ago, one that focused on one of the paintings from my Exiles series from around 1995.  It’s a painting that I would never part with for many reasons but mainly for the meaning it holds for me in changing the course of my life at one point.

In 2008, I wrote:

I thought I’d take a moment and show this painting, Cain, another from the Exiles series that I’ve discussed in past posts.  This is a smallish piece and one of my favorites, one with which  I will never part.

He is based, somewhat, on the biblical story of the original exile, one expelled from his homeland after slaying his brother  to create a new world for himself, never to return.  It is also based on the novel Demian by Hermann Hesse, a book that meant much to me when I went through a trying time years ago.  Actually, it seems a lifetime ago.

In Demian, Hesse uses the mark of Cain as a symbol for those seeking the truth in themselves.  He also discusses the dual nature of man, an idea which has had a very formative aspect in my growth as a painter.  The idea of opposing forces, light and dark,  being contained in one element, one being, always struck a chord in me.  It made sense of the struggles that I observed in myself and many others.

He also made a statement that resonated like a gigantic bell tolling for me.

Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world.

Without going into detail, that small sentence was a revelation.  It changed my world forever.

I realize this is a fragmented explanation of this painting and the book that influenced it.  I merely wanted to illustrate what personal meaning some pieces can have for an artist as well the serendipitous nature of moments when art and one’s real life converge.

Maybe I will elaborate in the future.  Maybe not…

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CainI thought I’d take a moment and show this painting, Cain, another from the Exiles series that I’ve discussed in past posts.  This is a smallish piece and one of my favorites, one with which  I will never part.

He is based, somewhat, on the biblical story of the original exile, one sent from his homeland to create a new world for himself, never to return.  It is also based on the novel Demian by Hermann Hesse, a book that meant much to me when I went through a trying time years ago.  Actually, it seems a lifetime ago.

In Demian, Hesse uses the mark of Cain as a symbol for those seeking the truth in themselves.  He also discusses the dual nature of man, an idea which has had a very formative aspect in my growth as a painter.  The idea of opposing forces, light and dark,  being contained in one element, one being, always struck a chord in me.  It made sense of the struggles that I observed in myself and many others.

He also made a statement that resonated like a gigantic bell tolling for me.

Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world.

Without going into detail, that small sentence was a revelation.  It changed my world forever.

I realize this is a fragmented explanation of this painting and the book that influenced it.  I merely wanted to illustrate what personal meaning some pieces can have for an artist as well the serendipitous nature of moments when art and one’s real life converge.

Maybe I will elaborate in the future.  Maybe not…

Read Full Post »

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