What might be this invisible force that draws people to view paintings?
For some this urge remains completely unknown, the embrace of the art muse doesn?t excite them. Some go, for their reason tells them to keep close to the bustle around a work of art or exhibition, motivated by the progressive thought ?This exhibition should be seen!? accompanied by an incentive ?Intelligent, broad-minded people visit art exhibitions, don?t they? This will be good to slip casually and elegantly into a conversation to impress with my erudition and spiritual depth!? Such person will look at art with eyes wide open, and get satisfaction on intellectual level, in his head. And often after leaving the exhibition hall, he will shake off the art experience like a goose shakes off water and plunges back into the everyday world.
The well-known quotation by Saint Exup?ry says: ?It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.? Is it true also for the art of painting? Is the eye the ruling king in visual art?
Some people go to an exhibition for their genuine interest in the artist?s work or in art as a divine phenomenon. Interest has an exciting effect on people ? interest may (and might not) open the channel between the head and the heart, and the person will start seeing with the heart.
The one who looks with the heart is open to the artist?s subconscious mind, as many artists and art historians agree that a work of art manifests the author?s subconscious urges. And sometimes when the unconscious processes of the viewer and the artist are in sync ? on the same wavelength, the artist?s spirit will touch like lightning even those not motivated by interest.
Psychologist Carl Jung is attributed the thought that ?the ability to hit the vein and translate the subconscious into the language of philosophical literature, music, art or science, determines a person?s genius.? Yes, some creators are more gifted and their works stimulate the nerve receptors of a larger number of viewers.
For me this is the most intriguing aspect of art. You never know when a work of art has the potential to touch the viewer?s subconsciousness. That?s when you feel a gentle flutter inside that you cannot express in words, yet comprehend that this work of art fascinates you in some way, speaks to you. You feel it in your body that the beauty, ugliness, pain, joy, peace, fear or any other emotion depicted in the picture resonates in you, having slipped past the protective censorship of your reason. You may find it delightful, calming, exciting; it may touch your sore spots, irritate or even anger you.
But without doubt your emotion shows that you have met the artist. You can?t say that if your head has been your guide at the exhibition; if so, you haven?t been touched by the beauty or the pain. You have seen the artwork but haven?t met the artist. Your subconscious minds have not merged into one in the collective unconscious.
That is probably why art is sometimes considered to be a special form of mysticism ? here you have the opportunity to meet ? through the work of art, at soul level ? with somebody who has passed away long ago or an artist that you have never met in person. This way the meeting of the viewer and the author becomes a spiritual experience.
It is said that an image speaks louder than a thousand words. Symbols and colours, sounds and smells speak directly with our subconsciousness. To have a work of art strike you like that, you need to let it pass through you. This, in its turn, requires time to delve. Visiting an art exhibition where you stop in front of every picture for a few moments is the same as the modern day speed-dating experience ? you speak briefly with each new partner and move on clockwise. The idea of speed dating is that you can later return to the person that aroused your interest (provided, of course, that you inspire him or her, too). Likewise it is worth the while to see many works displayed at an exhibition, but then dig deep into what intrigued you, really with your heart; to experience the feeling that was evoked ? either from the lighter, positive side of emotions, or from the range of darker, perhaps even disturbing ones.
That?s when art has fulfilled its purpose ? it has touched you. And you have had the chance to meet the artist ? through the mystical resonance inherent in the collective unconscious.
Yes, at that moment we can claim that art rules over human soul.
Recently I was personally touched by art while designing my book ?The Art of Being A Woman? when I was looking for paintings that would depict female archetypes. In my effort to find works of art that would capture and represent the different states of being a woman ? the overwhelming joy of life, passion flowing from her loins, gentle calmness, true dignity, the elusive lightness of being, fragile yet mighty femininity ? I went through thousands of paintings. Only the few that were finally chosen fascinated me. They touched the Eternal Woman in me. The mythical wolf?s tail under my skirt was moving, my ears pricked up, it was as if my senses sharpened and nerves became alive. I would very much like to hope that those images served as enhancers of the mystical essence of feminine archetypes and helped the written text to flow from the reader?s head to the heart.
Wishing you heartfelt art experiences,
Katrin Saali Saul -?Psychotherapist?Author of the book ?The Art of Being A Woman?