Kandinsky, the spiritual digging down.

Here in the little town on the bay and by the big water there is occasionally time to think as well as do.  This of course is dangerous, since it is in the little grey cells that new dreams arise and they have consequences in the real world of chairs, tables, and deities. 

Over on PreludiumArts I am recording the progress (if that is what it is) in my work as a printmaker. My sense is that I am at least working through the undergraduate dabbling in all sorts of printmaking mediums. I take some satisfaction in believing that I am advancing. But advancing in what?  The question that gets worked over again and again is this: "does any of this have the depth that I can find in the touch of another body, the taste of simple foods, the contact with an old friend, the saying of small prayers?" That is, is the "art" I am doing at all related (as a matter of spiritual strength) with the simple art of living?

So, one thing leads to another and eventually to Wassily Kandinsky.  I'd read Concerning the Spiritual in Art several times but this time took up his "Point and Line to Plane."  I couldn't put it down. Rich in ideas and suggestion. 

At the same time I've been working on the cyanotype photographic process and wondering how to use that as a basic plate from which to do other impressions to build an image / event.  I used a cutout formed on Kandinsky lines, burned the cyanotype, and then used two plexiglass plates to do color overlays. Here is the result:

I'm pleased, but know it is just a start.

More to the point, it has made me think again about the matter of digging down into the spiritual not only in art, but in religious life. We know that behind, beneath, over, around, whatever God images we have, there is God no longer tied to our images at all, there is God who is present in the experience but not in the identified and concrete forms - in things.  Finding God in the world is a bit like finding the spiritual in art - it is the "inside out" of incarnation. 

I'm a big incarnation fan. I'm a Jesus follower. And on a good day I too can attest, "in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell."  But then the Christian and Jewish Orthodox believer in me whispers, yes, but now, go deeper. Now find the God for whom Jesus was the outward and visible sign. Now find the abstract in the concrete, the numinous in the phenomena. And..off we go.

Some of my friends in the blogsphere do this all the time. Margaret, of "Its Margaret" lives out there where morning prayer and life and the numinous all flow together.  Elizabeth Keaton of "Telling Secrets" lets the secret out once and a while that under all the noise and intellectual traffic in her brain there is the profound sense that God is just there, behind, beneath, above, around the visit to the coffee shop, the political meeting, the sermon on Sunday.  These folks get it, I think, in an honest way.

But here, just in these days, I am working through the sensual world of identified objects to the sensual world of the identified subject.  

We do what we can do, even if not well. And I am sure, sure as my feet touch the ground, that beyond the edges of whatever it is we think God is, God is.



  1. The first time I read Kandinsky, my limited German translated the title "Over the Ghostly in Art." I was a little disappointed when there were no explanations of how he was inspired by his ancestors hanging around the rafters of his studio.

    Kandinsky seemed to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; Munich until 1914, Russia, for the revolution, then back to Germany for the outbreak of the Nazis, then finally to Paris where the Nazis followed him.

    I think that humanity has sunk to the bottom of the pyramid, and no artist has arisen to lead us upward. I am still hopeful.

  2. And, Mark, you are the one I trust to keep me grounded in the political life of the church and express/interpret it in so many ways.

    Thank you.

    PS --please come for a visit!


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