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Art and Spirituality

Reality isn't what it seems to be.

Matthijs Warner

Is there a special relationship between art and spirituality? There are many reasons to think so; between the two there seems to be a rich web of relationships. The arts have always been connected to religion. Sacred pictures, sacred symbols, sacred dances, chants, hymns and tunes have been used in rituals, in places of worship, and as aid to prayer and meditation in every religion. Judging by this alone, the arts seem to be natural vehicles for expressing or connecting with the transcendental. (1)

Yellow, Red, Blue. Wassily Kandinsky.

Wassily Kandinsky. Well known artist Kandinsky wrote in his book 'Concerning the spiritual in art (original German title "Ăœber das Geistige in Der Kunst"). (2): "In each picture of art, a good work of art, is a whole life imprisoned, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys." ...The message of the artist, he says, is to harmonize, by trying to find the essence of this life. "We live in a dual world and the goal is to harmonize. To make one." 'One' in this sense means non-dual, no subject-object, no you and me. We experience life as a duality. We are the subject and everything else is object. We, the subject, are looking to the world around us. That's duality. Non-duality means all is one. No border between you and me.

In the following I'm speaking about modern and contemporary art and their relation to spirituality, specially with Vedanta. Vedanta, Advaita Vedanta, ‘the knowledge that ends the quest for knowledge’, is a means of self knowledge sourced in the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. I am an artist myself, a Buddhist for thirty years and studying Vedanta. In one way this text is a personal view on reality, from a student's point of view, and on the other hand the view of the thousands of years old knowledge of the Veda's. The Vedas (Sanskrit for "knowledge") are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. They are the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature, roughly from 1700– 1100 BC, and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be "not of a man" and "impersonal, authorless". Kandinsky wrote his book in 1912, more then hundred years ago, when abstract art began to develop.

Kandinsky was an expressionist, member of artist groups/movements 'Der Blaue Reiter' and 'Die Brucke' with artist friends like Franz Marc and August Macke, and he was teaching on the famous Bauhaus Design School, teaching about color. (1923) He says: "Making art is a quest for knowledge, self knowledge in the first place. The artist creates a mirror for himself and ... when they are truly visionary artists they create a mirror for the viewers, the spectators."

Blaue Reiter: Maria Marc, Franz Marc, Bernhard Koehler, Kandinsky (seated), Heinrich Campendonck, Thomas von Hartmann.

Piet Mondrian. Pier and Ocean. 1915.

Piet Mondrian, famous from his yellow, red and blue paintings.

Mondrian radically simplified the elements of his artwork in an effort to reflect what he believed to be ...the order underlying the visible world. (3) Mondrian attempted to represent the world through vertical and horizontal lines which to him represented the two opposing forces: the positive and the negative, the dynamic and the static, the masculine and the feminine.

Kasimir Malevich. “Black Square” From the same time as Kandinsky, same time also as Mondrian. "Black square". Is this art? Yes and a famous painting indeed. The work is frequently invoked by critics, historians, curators, and artists as the “zero point of painting”. Why did Malevich painted a black square? In his own words -free translated-: "I wanted to show the emptiness in humans and this emptiness, this square, has the size of God!"

God is in silence and in emptiness. He is omnipresent but unknowable. The first time it was exhibited it hanged above in the corner, the place in Russian houses reserved for the religious icons.

He wanted to get rid of history, he painted -symbolically- over all the images of history; to start all over on a blank sheet! Malevich: “It is from zero, in zero, that the movement of being begins.� This is an important line. It means that all life began with nothing, the starting point is zero.

Henri Matisse. Henri Matisse: "There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted." (7) "An artist has to look at life as he did when he was a child."

So again, forget your history, be as a blank sheet. When you make art, look at art and when living your life.

Jean Dubuffet A primitive, childlike drawing of a person. His head as large and as round as his body, with crab-like arms and legs like matchsticks. Made with paint and sand. From the artist Jean Dubuffet. Together with others, including Andre Breton, he formed the Compagnie de l’Art Brut in 1948 and strove to seek out and collect works of extreme individuality and inventiveness by creators who were not only untrained artists but often had little concept of an art gallery or even any other forms of art other than their own. They probably don't even call themselves 'artist' or what they create 'art'. Dubuffet’s concept of Art Brut, or Raw Art, or Outsider Art, was of works that were in their “raw” state, uncooked by cultural and artistic influences. Without history! (6)

Georg Baselitz Why is this contemporary artist making paintings upside down? He truly paints like this. He doesn't paint them as standing instead of hanging and then turn the painting for us.

He is saying, "when I turn them around you just see an image! I want you to look at the world while standing on your head". He doesn't want you to look only to the image! He wants you to see the painting. (7) The same as the painting "this is not a pipe" from surrealist RenĂŠ Magritte Try to fill the pipe with tobacco! (8)

Jackson Pollock took a step further. He believed that dripped and poured canvases eliminated all recognizable imagery and that an act of painting was an act of self-realization. Pollock became one of the most famous painters for his style: pouring, flicking and dripping onto canvas laid out on the floor. Jack the Dripper he was called. Pollock believed that the “action� of the artist tapped into the subconscious; what you call automatism. (9)

The term "automatism" (10) most often refers to a technique of subconscious drawing in which the artist allows his unconscious mind to take control. Popular during the 20th century by Surrealist artists, who sought to unleash the creative force of the unconscious in art. Automatic drawing and painting was seen as the only way to escape from cultural, intellectual and historical constraints and unlock the basic creativity within the artist's personality.

Pollock, “Number 14 Grey.�

When you think of yourself or look in the mirror, or you say "I am my

memories, the total sum of my memories" or "I am my history", you realize that is not the total, or the only truth. You are, besides the fact that this moment you are listening, and use your eyes, and think and feel, you are the person in the centre. Jackson Pollock is looking to what his hand is doing. We are aware of our looking at those words. Normally you don't think about it but the way you look to your body isn't any different from the way you look to your feelings and thoughts, and even to the body of someone else, like your neighbor. While painting, Pollock's awareness stays the same, his hand is the doer, he himself -so to speak- is watching, his awareness stays the same, it doesn't move or change and is always there and is unlimited; the possibilities of awareness are unlimited. At this moment you are aware of many things all together, your senses are constantly giving information and the mind is translating what the senses receive in concepts in order for you to understand. Reality isn't what it seems to be, our own reality isn't what it seems to be. Take the instance of moving pictures on the screen in the cinema. It starts with the screen, a blank sheet. On that screen you see the film, and the pictures are real and you loose yourself in the story. After the play, when the pictures disappear,

what remains? The screen again! So with the blank sheet you essentially are. We are getting more personal now. That alone stays untouched; the pictures come and go. If you hold on to the blank sheet, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all if the pictures appear or disappear.

Let's go back to the beginning. While explaining what Vedanta is saying. The seed. Our zero point. You put a seed of an apple tree in the ground and you get an apple tree, not one with oranges. In this seed the whole tree is already there, but when you open and investigate the seed you will not find a mini apple tree, or in a day old embryo a mini you. It's like an idea or concept that is waiting for the right conditions, earth, water, sun -in the case of the apple tree- to burst out. We were born. We don't have thoughts; because for thoughts you need concepts and nobody told you yet that there is a difference between your mom and your dad, or between a table and a chair. And nobody also told you that you are you. The name you were given will not ring any bell in you, yet. There is a baby but there is not a person. It doesn't mean that it is a blank sheet, the seed is not empty, we all have our own imprint. You are you and not your neighbor.

The person you will be, will be born in time, it will develop in time. Still, for the new born child all is one; The new born child is aware of colors, sounds, smells and senses, light and dark, hard and soft. The days are filled with all kind of impressions, they are fluid and merge into one another and into the child. It is if everything is the child. When the body of a baby needs food it knows it has to make noise -there is no person that thinks "i am hungry". The body knows, like it knows how to breath, how it knows how to pump the blood through the veins. We as a person have nothing to do with all that. We say 'I breath in and I breath out' and 'I see or i smell or 'I hear' but the fact is that we as a person just see it happen. We are the witness. When this witness grows up it learns, mom becomes mom, a table a table, the color red red and the child becomes a person. It still is a witness though, that doesn't change. YOU, with capital letters -Vedanta explains-, are a witness. A witness of your life. The witness of you as a person. The person is growing, learning, changing. The witness stays the same, the whole way.

Giorgio Morandi.

Painter of mainly still lives Morandi was happy with a handful of things. These were primarily bottles, tins, jugs, vases, and a few bowls. He erased labels and light reflections to expose their shape and volume, working with the concentration of a Zen master. If Morandi painted his tins and vase in one arrangement one day, he would move the vase a few inches and paint them anew the next day. These minute transformations amazed Morandi. He didn't need anything more. A slight change in the light, a subtle shift in direction, and his world of only a few things was forever fresh and new.

He is showing simple and humble things, no high philosophy but the daily life we easily oversee. It seems he is telling us: Everything is a mystery, ourselves, and all things both simple and humble." (12)

As persons we are seemingly different (seemingly because we know

that our experiences, our thoughts and feelings are more or less the same. We all know happiness, sadness, fear). As witnesses we are one. Why do i say this? Or why does Vedanta says this, it's not me personally that found it out in my own. Another word for the witness is awareness or consciousness. We are conscious beings and your consciousness is the same as mine. If yours were different, how could we communicate, thats impossible isn't it? Our senses work the same. We see, hear and taste the same, the one stronger, clearer or darker then the other but from this point of view, from the witness point of view there is no essential difference, no border, no you and me, no personalities. No duality.

When we 'are' consciousness, when we accept that consciousness is our essence, there is no duality.

The person, you, has a mind who thinks in concepts, created concepts, in symbols. Our eyes just see. We as a person, our mind, separate the table from the chair because our mind thinks in concepts, it only can think in concepts. We created the table in our mind. Huh? First we invented the table, we thought it was handy to have one, so we created one. When the table is there, in front of us, you could say that the table is a thought, a concept. It origins from the 'thought' 'table'; the thought became name and form. It became a manifestation of a thought. I'm pointing this out because i want to show you the difference between the real and the unreal. Between the blank sheet we essentially are and what we created, what we think we are and what we think the world is like. The wood of the table is hard, no doubt about it, and we can sit on our created chair, no problem. We think in concepts.

Feelings are thoughts too so they are also concepts. We feel happy or sad

because we name it happy and sad. What is sadness without a name? It loses value, it becomes something that passes by in consciousness. As soon as we give something, like sadness, a name, we stick to it, we think its ours, we think it belongs to us. We think it is the truth. This is a different way to look at yourself. Normally we follow our thoughts and feelings. This is the way we relate to ourselves and to the world. This is our reality. Nothing wrong with that of course but the problem is that our reality constantly changes. We were born, live our lives and then die. And, following the idea of reincarnation, we are born again, and again. We accept this changing reality as a fact of life and try to make the best of it. But one major fact of life is that we want to be happy, this is our goal in life. We all want happiness. Is there anybody that doesn't want to be happy? No. When everything always changes, how can we be happy? The purpose of the knowledge of reality -the reality of consciousness - and the apparent reality -the reality of how we as an individual experience reality- is, freedom and happiness.

The scriptures of Vedanta says this all: In the early part of the first millennium B.C. we find stated both the methods and the discoveries of brahmavidya (knowledge of the absolute) With this introspective tool the inspired rishis (literally “seers”) of ancient India, analyzed their awareness of human experience to see if there was anything in it that was absolute. Anything that doesn't change. Their findings can be summarized in three statements: (1) there is an infinite, changeless reality beneath the world of change; (2) this same reality lies at the core of every human personality; (3) the purpose of life is to discover this reality experientially: that is, to realize God while here on earth. These principles and the interior experiments for realizing them were taught systematically in “forest academies” or ashrams – a tradition which continues unbroken after some three thousand years. (13)

So, BECAUSE REALITY ISN’T what it seems to be, our view on reality, that's why Vedanta exist. To explain, to delete ignorance. Animals don’t need scriptures on enlightenment. They don’t worry, because they accept reality as it is. Worry distinguishes us from every other living being; the ancient texts define human beings as “those that worry.”

We have two realities, the one of the witness and the one of the personality. Which one is the true one? In case you ask the question. Both are. Of course. We exist, no doubt about it, we exist as a 'conscious' 'person', a 'conscious' 'individual'. A 'Jiva' in Sanskrit.

You exist and you are aware of existence. We don't give it much attention though. We take it for granted. The attention goes to thoughts and feelings and we think we are these thoughts and feelings, and not the I who is aware of them. You see the difference?

“Art is a form of nourishment, of feeding our consciousness, the spirit,” 31-yearold Susan Sontag (14) wrote in her diary in 1964. “Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness,” wrote Alain de Botton (15) half a century later. Wassily Kandinsky wrote "To harmonize the whole is the task of art.” "Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and... stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work, the painting, the piece of music, has enabled you to walk around into an unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?"

And what now has to be said...words from the artist Joseph Beuys: "If you come in a space with a big flame of fire you will get burnt, and you cannot say: ‘This is the symbol of a flame’, because you will die of the heat of this flame. So is Christ not a symbol for something. It is the substance in itself. It means life. It means power, the power of life. Without this substance of Christ the earth would already have died." (11)

Mark Rothko. According to Rothko (16), the work of modern artists, influenced by primitive art, could be compared to that of children in that "child art transforms itself into primitivism, which is only the child producing a mimicry of himself." Rothko: “I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotion- tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on- and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I communicate those basic emotions. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point!”.

Like Vedanta says: when you see yourself only as a person and by what you have achieved in life, then you miss the point.

We are always aware, this never changes. From the moment you wake up in the morning you are aware of a continuously changing mind. Awareness doesn't change, the mind does. When you investigate this in yourself you will find out that connecting to awareness brings you the harmony Kandinsky and the other artists speak about, because awareness is always there, you can trust on that. The purpose off Vedanta is getting peace of mind, freedom of limiting thoughts and bothering feelings. The purpose of Vedanta is to remove ignorance.

James Swartz Swartz (17), a contemporary and my Vedanta teacher, says, when he is speaking about meditation. “In meditation, the meditator is making an enquiry in the inner world. You, the self, is the one who’s watching the meditation. Meditation is creating the conditions where it’s easier to discriminate yourself from the objects appearing in you (think of thoughts and feelings as objects). Liberation (moksha) is understanding the difference between you, the self (consciousness) and the objects. “In meditation, I don’t have physical objects to worry about. I only have subtle objects to worry about. When we’re meditating you can ‘see’ or ‘feel’ or ‘hear’ the silence, which is an object You can know it. You are the knower of the silence. You’ll hear the sounds coming into the silence and disappearing out of the silence; you can see your thoughts coming in the silence and out of the silence. If you have an important experience, then you’ll feel emotions generated out of that experience appearing in the silence and disappearing out of the silence.

So you have two objects in meditation; you have the silence and the mental activity appearing in it. And there’s a third factor there too. The third factor is me, the witness of the silence. If you see or experience or know silence, you can’t be silence because you can’t be what you see. You are aware of the silence. In meditation, there are these three factors all the time.

James Swartz teaching Vedanta in Tiruvannamalai, India.

Nam June Paik Nam June Paik (18) worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the founder of video art. This installation of Nam June Paik consists of a Buddha statue placed in front of a TV gazing at its own video image, registered by video camera. The traditional, closed eyed Buddha, contemplating the inner self, is forced to interact with a media perception of the self. You could see this as an illustration of what I am saying here. The statue as our consciousness and the video image as the individual. During an exhibition in Cologne, the artist took the Buddha’s place.

Agnes Martin

Yvonne Rand (19), a Zen meditation teacher on an Agnes Martin (20) work: "The risk in looking at a work with apparently repetitious elements is tending to a quick reaction, to a generalization, even before one is fully present with the work. Agnes Martin challenges our habitual ways of experiencing the world, it brings you back to ordinary daily experiences, like one’s breath. You know you breath in and out but you normally don't give it attention." Our excited, noisy culture challenges and erodes the capacity for stillness and quiet. Agnes Martin’s paintings require the viewer to be still, to be present.

I had a salad for lunch, with tomato, cucumber, green salad, Gorgonzola

cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple and nice. While eating I remembered myself that I want to look at life as a witness and just be aware. And I was amazed about the limitlessness of awareness. In one bite I was aware of the taste of tomato, cucumber, salad, Gorgonzola and the flavor of oil and vinegar. While eating I was thinking and sometimes speaking out loud and I heard my voice, I was looking around and aware of the dish in front of me and the fork in my hand, the glass of water, the bread and butter. Tasting, looking, hearing, feeling, all together without a problem. Awareness is unlimited! I was aware and conscious of it all and that's what I really am. Limitless consciousness! And still, normally we don't identify ourselves with consciousness. The same with existence, I know I exist and I'm happy I do but now, if you don't mind, I move on. We also have the light of the sun, the air we breathe, gravity to keep us on the ground. I can't think about everything all the time. Indeed, but why are we than so concerned about what we feel and think? Why is that more important, so important that we think that it is our essence? Isn't it more obvious to be consciousness?

Ann Hamilton, (21), another contemporary artist. "We are all in different ways living out the relationship between being bodies and in inheriting a language. I think it's really interesting that as a culture we spend so much time in language ~in reading, writing, speaking, and in print culture~ whether it's on the screen or paper. We are communicating all the time with words, trying to find the words in which we can recognize our experience. Can we think of something if there is no language for it? How do we understand experiences we can't name?" From the 1994 installation Tropos.

“You have to trust the things you can’t name,” Ann Hamilton contends, adding, in a related thought, “you feel through your body, you take in the world through your skin.”Experience, for Hamilton, leads to knowledge, or, more precisely, to a form of knowledge which is of far greater value and significance than mere codified information. Such knowledge comes as much through the body and the senses as through the mind. Consequently, she views verbal language as a deeply limited vehicle for communication since it remains at best an abstraction. Because they are concepts. She asks the question: "Can we think of something if there is no language for it?" My answer would be (but i don't think Ann Hamilton is waiting for my or anyone else's answer, she is interested in the process, which is the form of her art). When there is no language, no names, life is rolling out by itself. When there is no interruption of naming the things that happen, life is what it is. We know what to do, the body knows what to do and the person also knows what to do.

From Body/Object series. Ann Hamilton.

Our days are full with unnamed experiences. Aren't they? And i'm afraid that we blow ourselves up when we do name them all. I would say: "Leave this mind of yours in its natural state where there is nothing artificial."

In the Upanishads (22) there are anecdotes where the sense organs such as the eye, the

ear, etc. supposedly contended among themselves which is superior, because the prana ( "life force" or vital principle) started saying, “Who among us is superior? He, by the exit of whom others cannot exist, may be regarded as superior. Let somebody quit; after that, if one of us becomes miserable, then we may say that person (that sense) is superior.” So the eye left; he went away. But even if the eyes were not there, there was no problem. The ears could hear, nose could smell, the tongue could taste, etc. Then the ear said, “I am very important. Let me quit, and let us see what happens.” The ears left, but nothing happened. If the ears were not there they could not hear, of course, but they could see, and many other things could be done. So it was found that none of the organs could be regarded as more superior than the others. But when the prana said, “I am superior, and I shall quit,” then all the senses started shaking. It looked as if the whole building was cracking because when the prana goes, the senses break down immediately. So all the senses said, “Don’t go, don’t go! Please, we accept you as superior.” Then they all worshipped him. When prana Returned to the body, they too were back.

As when the queen bee goes out, all the bees go out, and when she returns all return.

Even if all the senses are not there, even if we are blind, deaf and dumb, but if the prana is there, we are alive. So the prana should be considered as the true Self, because prana is alive even when we are asleep. Even when the senses are stifled, as it were, as in the state of sleep, and are not conscious, the prana is awake like a watchman; and so we must consider the prana as superior to all the senses. Nothing in this world is totally independent. everything is dependent on Existence/Prana which gives life to everything. Thats why we meditate on Existence, which is emptiness, the blank sheet. No thoughts, just be. In the Upanishads they say it like this: The three aspects of Brahman (or God or the Self or essence or what ever name you want to give it) are – sat (existence), cit (consciousness) and ananda (bliss). Sat-chit-ananda is a Sanskrit term which translates as being-consciousness-bliss.

Sri Ramana Maharshi (23) (who is the most well known Vedanta teacher, who lived from 1879 till 1950) taught that the Self is pure being, a subjective awareness of ‘I am’ which is completely devoid of the feeling ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’. There are no subjects or objects in the Self, there is only an awareness of being. Because this awareness is conscious it is also known as consciousness. The direct experience of this consciousness is, according to Sri Ramana, a state of unbroken happiness. These three aspects, being, consciousness and bliss, are experienced as a unitary whole and not as separate attributes of the Self. They are inseparable in the same

way that wetness, transparency and liquidity are inseparable properties of water. (David Godman, 'Be as you are'. 24) Bliss, or happiness is our natural state of being. And because it is our natural state, it is our nature to search for happiness. We don't want to be miserable, we want to be happy. Sri Ramana Maharshi. MW.

Marina Abramovic, a famous performance artist (25):

" I never went to a psychologist. I always thought the more terrible childhood you have, the better artist you get, because you have more material to work with. I don't think anyone does anything from happiness. Happiness is such a good state, it doesn't need to be creative. You're not creative from happiness, you're just happy. You are creative when you're miserable and depressed. You find the key to transform things. Happiness does not need to transform." You're just happy. What more do we want?

Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful

Key instructions (to be happy) by lama Gendun Rinpochee (26). Happiness cannot be found through great effort and willpower, but is already here, right now, in relaxation and letting go. Don't strain yourself, there is nothing to do. Whatever arises in the mind has no importance at all, because it has no reality whatsoever. Don't become attached to it. Don't pass judgement. Let the game happen on its own, emerging and falling back - without changing anything and all will vanish and begin anew, without end. Only our searching for happiness prevents us from seeing it.

It is like a rainbow which you run after without ever catching it. Although it does not exist, it has always been there and accompanies you every instant. Don't believe in the reality of good and bad experiences; they are like rainbows. Wanting to grasp the ungraspable you exhaust yourself in vain. As soon as you relax this grasping, there is space - open, inviting and comfortable. So make use of it. Everything is already yours. Search no more, Nothing to do, nothing to force, nothing to want and everything happens by itself.

"The Artist is Present", under that name Marina Abramovic did a performance in the MOMA Museum in New York.

In a room there was a table with two chairs, opposite each other. On one side the artist was sitting and visitors were invited to come and sit in front of her for a while. Looking into each others eyes. Abramovic: "I felt unconditional love for every person i sat with. Unconditional love with someone you've never met is a straightforward feeling that is overwhelming and fulfilling. It's not easy to do. I was trying to set up a zone where I was really empty. I am receiver and sender at the same time. Then I can open myself and be vulnerable and this other person can actually feel comfortable to let it go, all of his pain and wandering, and feel that I am unconditionally in love and I don't want anything out of this.

Kandinsky said: "The goal of the artist is to harmonize. To make one." So do the arts help us to understand harmony and non duality? One answer could be: we need a 'Gesamtkunstwerk', like Vedanta, a total work of art, a synthesis of the arts. That all senses come together. The other evening I was sitting in the car next to my girlfriend Isabel who was driving. Seeing the landscape passing, everything stood still, all stood still. The lights outside, the rumbling sound of the car engine, the slight movements to left or right, the smell of fresh air coming in through the open window, she and me. All became fluid and one.

In that 'one', there is nothing happening. There is only awareness, awareness that doesn't separate between sound and smell, present or future, you and me. There is a process going on, yes; life, birth and death; call it nature. Nature creating life for the sake of creating.

Tavira, Portugal, October 2015. Š Matthijs Warner (27)

The lecture was given October 2015 in Tavira and January 2016 in Lagoa, Portugal.

References Cover image: Kasimir Malevich, Hieratic Suprematist Cross. 1920/21. 1.

The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 (NY, London, Paris: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Abbeville Press, 1986). The catalog for an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also shown at the Chicago Museum of Modern Art and the Haags Gemeentemuseum in the Hague during 1986 and 1987. 2. Kandinsky, Wassily: Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912). 3. Piet Mondrian. An influential non-representational painter, Piet Mondrian’s art evolved over his lifetime into his own unique style, which he coined “neoplasticism.” This art was not based on outside artistic influences or on typical techniques, but was instead Mondrian’s interpretation of his deeply felt philosophical beliefs. He subscribed to two sets of philosophical beliefs; theosophy, a religious mysticism which sought to help humanity achieve perfection, and anthroposophy, which held that the spiritual world was directly accessible through the development of the inner self. His works were thus aimed at helping humanity through aesthetic beauty and breaking from a representational form of painting. He published his explanation of neo-plasticism in his art

publication "De Stijl" in 1917 and 1918. Piet Mondrian. Composition No.10 (Pier and Ocean) / Compositie nr.10 (Pier en oceaan). Oil on canvas. 85 x 108 cm. Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, the Netherlands. 4. Kazimir Malevich, Russian Painter and Sculptor. Born February 26, 1879 near Kiev, Ukraine, died May 15, 1935 - Leningrad, USSR. 5. Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse; 31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Henri Matisse, Les pavots—Feu d’artifice, 1919, oil on canvas, Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan. 6. Raw vision What is Outsider Art. Jean Dubuffet "Limbour as a Crustacean, 1946". Hirshorn Museum in Washington, D.C. 7. Georg Baselitz. Georg Baselitz was born in 1938 in Deutschbaselitz, Saxony. Neo-Expressionist painter. 8. René Magritte. René François Ghislain Magritte (French; 21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images that fall under the umbrella of surrealism. His work is known for challenging observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality. 9. Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), known professionally as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major

figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting. Photo: Hans Namuth. 10. Automatic drawing was pioneered by Andre Masson. Artists who practised automatic drawing include Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Jean Arp and Adre Breton. 11. Joseph Beuys (German: 12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986) was a German Fluxus, happening and performance artist as well as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art. Image: Joseph Beuys by Andy Warhol. 12. Giorgio Morandi (July 20, 1890 – June 18, 1964) was an Italian painter and printmaker who specialized in still life. His paintings are noted for their tonal subtlety in depicting apparently simple subjects, which were limited mainly to vases, bottles, bowls, flowers and landscapes. 13. The Bhagavad Gita: (Classics of Indian Spirituality by Eknath Easwaran. 14. Susan Sontag (January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer and filmmaker, teacher and political activist. 15. Alain de Botton, (born 20 December 1969) is a Swiss writer, philosopher, and television presenter who currently lives in the United Kingdom. His books and television programs discuss various contemporary subjects and themes, emphasizing philosophy's relevance to everyday life. 16. Mark Rothko (born Markus Yakovlevich Rotkovich (September 25, 1903 – February 25, 1970), was an American painter of Russian Jewish descent. Image: "RED". Guggenheim Museum.

17. James Swartz, Vedanta teacher, was born in Butte, Montana in 1941. The principal influences on his teaching have been Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Abhedananda and Swami Dayananda. Visit James' website,, for more information about his work. 18. Nam June Paik (July 20, 1932 – January 29, 2006) was a Korean American artist. He worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the founder of video art. 19. Yvonne Rand is a meditation teacher and lay householder priest in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition. She began her practice and study of Zen with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1966. 20. Agnes Bernice Martin (March 22, 1912 – December 16, 2004) was an American abstract painter. Often referred to as a minimalist. 21. Ann Hamilton. Born in Lima, Ohio, in 1956. Website of the artist: 22. Upanishads. The upanishads are expositions of doctrine, typically found in the concluding portions of the brAhmaNas and AraNyakas of the four vedas. A number of upanishads are extant today, with commentaries on them by representatives of various schools of vedAnta. The upanishads are not to be seen as uniform books - each text is connected to the veda in which it occurs, and the upanishadic teaching is often presented in the context of a particular vedic hymn or ritual. In the vedAnta traditions, the upanishads are referred to as gthe Sruti prasthAna, i.e. revealed scripture, from which knowledge of brahman is obtained.

23. Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950) was an Indian sage and jivanmukta. He was born Venkataraman Iyer, in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, South India, and given the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in 1907, by one of his first devotees, Ganapati Muni. This would be the name by which he became more widely known. In 1896, at the age of 16, he became aware that "his real nature was formless, immanent consciousness," resulting in a state which he later described as enlightenment. Six weeks later he left his family home in Madurai, and journeyed to the holy mountain Arunachala, in Tiruvannamalai, where he would remain for the rest of his life. 24. David Godman (born 1953) is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading authorities on the life, teachings and disciples of Ramana Maharshi. 25. Marina Abramović (born November 30, 1946) is a Serbian performance artist based in New York. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. 26. Gendun Rinpoche was born in the Earth Horse year (1918) in the Kham region of eastern Tibet. His activity took him to a great number of European countries. He passed away on the 31st October 1997 in his room at Dhagpo Kundreul Ling in the Auvergne, France. 27. Matthijs Warner Leijenaar, born 1951 in Naarden the Netherlands. Lives in Tavira Portugal. Artist, a Buddhist for 30 years and studying Advaita Vedanta. Website:

Art and spirituality  

Text of the lecture "Art & Spirituality" held in October 2015 in Tavira, Portugal. Is there a special relationship between art and spiritual...

Art and spirituality  

Text of the lecture "Art & Spirituality" held in October 2015 in Tavira, Portugal. Is there a special relationship between art and spiritual...