"The layers of azurite pigments," I wrote for an exhibit in Santa Fe called "Beauty without Regret," "spread over paper as I let the granular pigments cascade. My eyes see much more than what my mind can organize. As the light becomes trapped within pigments, a 'grace arena' is created, as the light is broken, and trapped in refraction. Yet my gestures are limited, contained, and gravity pulls the pigments like a kind friend." The "Gravity and Grace" series that we included in our first TriBeCa Temporary exhibit, exemplifies this "incomplete" approach. But further, Beauty too, is defined as a participant in the suffering of the world.
Art cannot be divorced from faith, for to do so is to literally close our eyes to that beauty of the dying sun setting all around us. Every beauty also suffers. Death spreads all over our lives and therefore faith must be given to see through the darkness, to see through the beauty of "the valley of the shadow of death".
Prayers are given, too, in the layers of broken, pulverized pigments. Beauty is in the brokenness, not in what we can conceive as the perfections, not in the "finished" images but in the incomplete gestures. Now, I await for my paintings to reveal themselves. Perhaps I will find myself rising through the ashes, through the beauty of such broken limitations.
The Japanese ideogram for beauty is built with two Chinese characters, "sheep" and "great". Apparently, in China, beauty was a "fat (great) sheep." But in Japan, with the contribution of Sen-no-Rikyu and others, this word for beauty became refined and abstract. Beauty became associated with death and its sorrow. "Mono-no-aware," an expression that captures the sentiment of sorrow (literally "sorrow of things") points to the notion of beauty as sacrifice. To enjoy the feast at a banquet, a sheep must be sacrificed. Autumn leaves are most beautiful and bright as they are distressed with their impending death. The minerals I use must be pulverized to bring out their true beauty. The great post-war writer Ryunoske Akutagawa wrote, before committing suicide at the age of thirty-five, "But nature is beautiful because it comes to my eyes in their last extremity."
I did not realize, when I wrote the above passage, that my family and I would witness first hand, and survive because of, the sacrifice of hundreds of firemen who carried out their mission to sacrifice their own lives to save others. They climbed the falling towers. They, along with other heroes of 9/11, re-defined life's true expression forgotten by the "convoluted theory" of recent times. The firemen's art was in their sacrifice. Their lives were offered up in response to the terrorist's art of vengeance in their "last extremity." Theirs was the metanoia, turning 180 degrees to face death head on rather than fleeing. They are the examples of great sheep, and from their example of sacrificial love, we can begin to know and experience true beauty.