A new language

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The white tulips of “Fringe” (TV series)

I haven’t been able to work due to the monthly invasion of ‘dark’ hormones. I feel utterly unfocused and distant – but even so, I feel deeply connected to my inner world and every day I sense something new approaching – like I am subconsciously learning a new language within my own creativity and imagination. I see new visions, new ideas are forming with ease and without resistance. It feels really good. But what are all these new things I see inside my mind? As soon as the hormones have passed, I will try to find out. I especially want to make a digital piece inspired by the mythology of the white tulip in Fringe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own personal mythology and how I could use it more in my art. I have about 30 notebooks with therapy notes, there are so many personal symbols and whole new iconography in there. It will be fun to explore them outside the notebooks for a change. I think this was exactly what Hilma Af Klint did in her art, almost exactly a hundred years ago.

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Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 17, Group IX/SUW, The SUW/UW Series (1915)

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From my notebook earlier this year

There are so many emotions and memories I wish to share with the world – both to tell my story but also to take my research about dissecting the soul to a new level. Perhaps I’ll be a little art-philosopher one day, who knows. First, I have to learn how to use this new language so I know how to tell the story right.

My morning with Amadeus

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Tom Hulce as Mozart in the 1984 movie Amadeus by Milos Forman

I’m spending this morning in bed, watching one of my favorite movies – Amadeus (1984), trying to escape the heat wave as much as I can. Lately I’ve noticed that most of my favorite movies are about creative people or about the creative process. Amadeus is so much about the flow of Mozart’s creativity and mojo. The Commitments (1991) is a tale of the commitment to a creative project and its various phases of passion, hard work, focus, ambition and the battle between the primitive and natural drive of the soul to have a voice and the pride of the ego to be even louder. Little Women (1994) is about a young woman’s love for writing and her insecurities about how to use her creativity since she’s a woman in a society and time which aren’t really interested in what a young woman has to say.

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My favorite actress Winona Ryder as the talented writer Jo March in Little Women (1994)

One of my favorite TV series, Canadian produced Anne of Green Gables (1986) is dealing with a similar theme; a young and creative female writer with too much imagination and passion for her own good in a time where there’s no room for such a female personality type (only as the “crazy, hot tempered spinster” lady type). Even Inception (2010) is mostly about the creative process of planning, thinking and mentally constructing the “realistic” dream worlds like layers upon layers of dreams within dreams. There’s so much focus on the richness of the imagination and the power of creation.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and the complexities of the super advanced worlds of Inception (2010), created by human minds using intelligence, logic, creativity, imagination and philosophy in a powerful way

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The Game (1997) – killing the ego to let the id breathe using creativity to manipulate the process

One of my all time favorite moviesThe Game (1997) directed by David Fincher, might look like an ordinary psychological thriller at a first glance, but if we take a closer look, we can see that the theme goes deeper. It’s a journey through the stagnation and awakening of a mind. It’s about acknowledging the creativity of life itself – a reminder that we are the creator of our own lives, we are not the result (or victims) of what life is creating for us. We have to use our creativity, imagination and consciousness in every little decision, or we’ll be suffocated by life’s endless ruts, cycles and culs-de-sac.

If we surrender to a stagnated life we end up just as stagnated in our hearts and minds – and it’s only through our creativity and the primitive and natural instincts that we can break free and feel reborn (by killing the ego to let the id breathe), in order for us to appriciate who we really are and what we have. I love how Fincher is using the texture of sound design to illustrate the process – in the echoes of the metallic noises in the kitchen scene where the main character is spending his birthday alone in a cold and heartless house, decorated appropriate to his wealth and status but is without personality or warmth, to the loud and intrusive music of Jefferson Airplane in the scene where his home has been invaded and vandalized, as something threatening but I imagine that he used to listen to that kind of music as a young man before he became all ‘cold and dead’ inside, so it’s also liberating and nostalgic – a reminder of a time where he was enjoying his life instead of feeling like he owns it and being owned by it at the same time. When we have become ‘comfortably numb’ and lost touch with our true nature and the only creativity we use in our lives comes in a pretty box or with a price tag, then we feel threatened by that natural and powerful creativity – because it destroys the illusion of the comfort and makes us FEEL and become un-numbed. It is easier to look away than to embrace it. Because our natural creativity requires raising uncomfortable questions, making hard decisions, letting go of things we are used to, being the leader of our own lives instead of being part of the massive herd of ‘sheeple’.

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Nazi ‘sheeple’ without their own creative juices flowing, following the creative visions of a leader with really bad ideas about most things – an extreme example of the danger of being ‘comfortably numb’ and uncreative 

Creativity is so much more than the act of creating a piece of art, music, a dance or writing a story. It is the very foundation of life itself. It is in everything. As long as we are brave enough to withstand the comfort of going with the mainstream flow of ready made lifestyles and pre-made ideas and visions which are for sale and can be consumed through our TV screens, at the mall or in the magazines on our coffee tables.

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They Live (1988)

About white, black and the infinite nothingness

 

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A still from “2001 – A Space Odyssey” directed by Stanley Kubrick (1968)

 

The first thing I do when I start working on a new canvas is to paint it black. The blank, white surface makes me very uncomfortable. It’s almost a compulsive act, to fill the empty space with…something, anything. The black paint is the perfect domination. It forces out the nothingness, eliminates the emptiness, tames the blankness. I always do this. Most of the times I let the black background be part of the painting, sometimes I change it to some other color. But I never let it stay white or pristine. The sterile white creeps me out.

Ever since I watched Kubrick’s “2001 – A Space Odyssey” for the first time, I’ve been convinced that Death is this white sterile room of passivity and helplessness. Most likely I will die in a hospital, surrounded by nurses in white, in a room with white walls, sterility, bright lights or daylight. My last suffering will take place in a white environment, while I’ll find peace in my sleep, with closed eyes – away from all the white.

For me, Death is not a passive continuation of Life. Death is not the eternal silence that follows my last breath, it is in the hours, minutes, seconds before I take my last breath. Then I simply stop existing. There is no Death for me. There is only living or dying – both part of life, not Death. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t belong to any religion and I don’t share the common idea of Death as something mysterious yet tangible or as a concept of rest and eternal non-existance on Earth but a resurrection in some other dimension. When I die, I don’t exist anymore, I’m not resting, I’m not transported to another dimension, I’m not a ghost – I only exist in other people’s memories, through my art and in photographs. To rest or sleep is part of being alive. We can visit other dimensions whenever we want while we are alive – by using our imagination, by asking questions through science, philosophy or art – and by listening to the heartbeats of life itself. It’s all here. It’s all here right now. If we dare to explore it –  because life and love can be overwhelming. Our potentials and the power in our own hearts and minds can be frighting. As soon as we start asking questions about ourselves or to question our lives, we are forced to be responsible of it – to change and lead our own lives. I call this “the conflict of independence”. When we choose to change the course of our lives, when we start to lead it in a new direction, we are faced with loss. Perhaps even loneliness. It is a painful process. But we are rewarded in the end. Nothing feels as good as the inner freedom and to be true to who we are, who we truly are. But to do that, we have to sacrifice a lot. It’s easier to numb our hearts, to let our minds fade into a blank space while we go through the motions, fall into ruts and the endless routines of every day life. To depend on people, to take their company for granted – to allow them to take us for granted. To stay where we don’t belong. To sacrifice or compromise our inner wildness, our curiosity, sexuality, perversions, dreams, desire, magic. Our nature. To accept replacement pleasure. Replacement enjoyment. Replacement everything.

To me, that is the real Death.

I’ve died so many times in my life.

The last time I died was a few years ago. In a time where I denied myself pleasure and happiness. A time when I turned my back on my true nature and replaced it with dependency, a compromised intellect, spiritual castration, denied sexuality, artistic suicide, neglect and passivity. This is also visible in my art from the time. All my digital pieces where so foggy, almost faded out, covered in whiteness, like I was afraid to exist through my art. Like I thought I wasn’t allowed to be loud. To be alive. Like I wasn’t allowed to take up space and demand to be seen.

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Two versions of my digital piece “My Neighborhood”, the lighter version is from 2012 and the darker version from 2014.

When I look at these works, I feel sad. I can see how lost I was. Almost erased in my sense of existence.. I was deeply depressed, lonely even though I was in a relationship, and so lost in myself. I had abandoned myself and my true nature in every way. I remember the mental paralysis that followed as meeting the true Death. Death came in daylight. Death was in the numbness. Death was in the comfort zones – and in the comfort itself. Death was in the suffering. Death was in the lack of choices. In the passing of time. In the waste of dreams. Death was in the isolation. And in the intimacy I had created in myself by accepting a life that didn’t feel like mine; spending my days alone in a house that wasn’t mine, in a relationship with a man who never felt like mine, making art that didn’t feel like it was part of me.

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A selfie from the time I was making the decision to leave

I had turned into a blank canvas. An untold story. An empty space.

It took me about a year from the time I decided that I wanted to change my life and to leave the man, the house and the dead life I had been living for a long time, until I could do it. That’s what numbness does to your ability to change and to break free from destructive things. I know how it feels to die and it doesn’t have anything to do with endings or eternal sleep.

To expect Death to be some kind of extension of Life is a presumptuous idea. It creates this relaxed attitude that Life is not the only opportunity to exist or that life is a passage. Life is incredible and precious. I don’t take it for granted anymore. Life is whatever you make of it. It is also the element of unexpected pain and suffering – but also the treasure chest of magic, love and creativity. Death is simply nothing. Life is everything.

When I am filling the new, white canvas with black paint, I have created a space of shadows that allows the possibility of new life and creativity to be hidden within it. Just like the Universe, the blackness of the paint holds a whole world of dreams and accidental beauty, born out of chaos and creation.