Kenosis and abstraction

January 27, 2013

Wen I eliminate painting objects and take the viewer out of a literal space. What happens?  The markings start start to be read as defining the space, defining emotion. Now we’re in a subtler realm. Subtler things start to be triggered. The gateway to subtler realms, even certain nuances, is through feelings. But we’re in a non-literal space. So your mind just goes into this space. You’re just totally in a non-material space. There’s no material references, but the mind still creates space. It’s a very mental, psychological, emotional space and depth. 

Kenosis is a process of, originally a spiritual process of, in a monk emptying themselves out of everything of the world. They empty themselves out of the world and they reach this state of complete emptiness which the Gnostics called kenosis. Then the word was revived for aesthetic purposes by the great English art critic, Paul Berger, when he was talking about Modern art and certain modern masters’ process of abstraction, that what they were operating with was this process of kenosis, where they empty out meanings through a process of kenosis to get to this particular style of work. [Berger’s idea is different from the original meaning.* He uses it as a critique, the Theologians used it as a process].  They [the monks] actually empty out. Exactly what I’m talking about.  As the monk empties out, what they expect in that emptiness, is for, in their terms , God to come in.  The Gnostics tried to avoid the word God, it was always Gnosis, which means knowledge. So knowledge entered in.

So actually as you empty out of all this superficiality and interest in worldly things, you get this sense of emptiness and then everything else enters in. That’s where it connects to rasa:  Yogananda used the word rasa for what you get when he emptied everything out in meditation. What comes in is rasa [sublime taste], you become incredibly immersed in the richness of everything. You actually achieve superconsciousness.

The mystics in the Christian tradition and the Gnostic traditions were allied with the platonic, neo-Platonic Greek and they merged. The Hindu traditions and those traditions are trying to explain a very similar thing. And it is the same state I am trying to get people aware of in my painting. And that I am actually in when I am painting most of the time.

That’s why it takes me awhile to get into it, why it’s hard to get started, because I do get into a certain kenotic state where I cannot understand language while I am painting these things. People say:” where does this come from?”  It sounds like, it feels like, it comes from somewhere else. I have to get emptied out to do the paintings as well.

*Paul Berger also talked about the role of landscape painting in the history of subjugating and destroying the landscape.  Landscape painting is really about possession. Material possession.

 

 

 

 

Erik ReeL painting1432

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