The Meaning of Art

By Dieter Duhm (Excerpt from the book: “The Sacred Matrix”)


 “Art is the true metaphysical act of human beings.”
                                                                                                    Friedrich Nietzsche


Art and worship are the original forms of venerating and cooperating with the Gods. Art and sexuality are the true forms of Eros.

Very little can be said verbally about art, because it lies outside of the categories of thought from which generally understandable words come. From the beginning of our project, we have held art courses with the single instruction to not speak about so-called personal problems for the duration of the course. Throughout the years, all participants have gladly followed these instructions, which have had a great liberating effect. Art is an area that lies outside of personal problems. It is a fundamental dimension of human life, which we re-integrate into our existence in order to reach fulfillment. Art is a dimension that is as specific and elementary as sexuality or religion. The one is not the result of the other, but they belong together. 

Art is a response that human beings give to the world when the world goes through them and emerges transformed. Nature needs this kind of answer, it needs art as a mirror, a stimulus, and an accelerator of its development. Art belongs on every ecological property, on the walls of ruins, on the walls of metal workshops. Systems where art is missing definitely bypass the principle of Creation. I do not mean this as dogmatically as it may sound, for art comes from an exuberance of a joyful, clear spirit. In a special kind of way, it objectifies life and one’s own person and releases us from our identification with everyday things and with ourselves. Therein lies its immense healing power. 

Those who are immersed in art have a different relationship to life: life is their material, their profession, their constant challenge in terms of new creation. Life is everywhere, Creation is everywhere, and we awaken it by participating in it. An artist is the opposite of a victim. As an artist, I do not follow the rules of society; instead, I follow the continuum of life, which has no name and does not follow any preconceived notions. In the creative continuum, all things lose their everyday quality. I discover the metaphysics of a seed. I am touched by the great presence that lies in these small things. I must respond. I can do nothing else. As an artist, I transcend moral and religious slogans. I constantly break my own habits and those of my fellow humans. The grim faces that I then encounter are then not an interpersonal problem. Instead, they form an arabesque of a flowing, living, artistic world. I solve problems by no longer participating in them. So many things solve themselves if we become creative!

Mostly we use the medium of painting in our art courses. Here, as in authentic music, dance, and theater, we experience a special kind of interplay between our own power and the powers of Creation.

Henri Matisse has summarized the search for original truth in art with the following words: 

In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows, and when there remains an energy that is all the stronger for being constrained, controlled and compressed. One must therefore offer oneself up in all purity and innocence, almost devoid of memory, like a communicant going to communion. It seems that we must learn to leave our experiences behind and at the same time retain the freshness of instincts.

These are elements of an original process of discovery and healing which have to do with art. But art goes far beyond that. In art, we discover the joy of celebration. Art is a sigh of relief in the gift of life. We have all internalized the icons of suffering through the artistic images of crucifixion, purgatory, hell, martyrdom, and damnation. In order to get used to the state of suffering, human beings had to create incredible images of the soul in their hearts, depicting trials and tribulations. Now we want to create the opposite: icons of the joy of life, sensuality, love, and community. Replacing the terrible icons of the past and of the old churches with new icons of life –  this is the larger topic of art.


Art and Religion
(Excerpt from the book: “Man's Holy Grail is Woman”, Ed. Madjana Geusen):

An artist who has found IT or who is about to find IT, usually goes on a long, passionate journey. As do religious persons, saints. S/he will not be able to speak about it in a meaningful way for a long time, because s/he does not really know it. S/he is on the path that was called “Tao” or “Wu-Wei” in the East and that, amazingly enough, was what Jesus meant in the same sense when he said:

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.”

Or: “Do not fear... For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Or: “Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' … your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

An artist works without asking about the consequences. He does not calculate, he lives, he works … and he begins to love more and more.

Because he is an artist, he begins to form this love more and more conscientiously. That is an ethical process in a spiritual sense. What does “more conscientiously” mean in this context? It is no longer meant in terms of copying, for the era of reproducing art is now over. It is meant in terms of being more deeply conscientious toward what one loves. One cares for and supports this thing (or this person). Art becomes a path that provides assistance on the path of love. Art shows the way on this path.

There are not many artists today. Just as there are not many saints. That is the result of a cultural dead end street in the evolution of humanity. But this is not due to the nature of the human being, for, as Josef Beuys once said: “There is an artist in every person.” In the distant past, the unadulterated human being had no choice but to constantly express his/her awe when coming face to face with “the Greater”, be it in their drawings, sounds, movements when walking, or prayers in sacred places. There, they were artists, too, they could hardly have been anything else. Art and religion was identical, they came together in the cosmic ritual, in the cult. 

But back to the immediate topic.

Art is formation. Art is the revolt of creativity against the norms of society. It has to do with a powerful inner urge and a resistance from outside (including one’s own “outside”), and it is faced with the task of giving creativity a form and direction that provides it with a way out into freedom.  (The same is true of the parable of the grass seedling breaking through a layer of asphalt.) Art, as seen by TAMERA ARTS, is not the expression of a catastrophe; instead it is the celebration of the path toward the light. Simply by existing, art itself comes from this path. For we should not forget that it encompasses the element of cult in the human being. To whom else would our highly developed ancestors from early history have dedicated their cults but to this great, endless, shining world? In front of whom or what would they have had a greater urge to get down on their knees, than in this kind of worship and gratitude? It was vital and immediate, it was giving form from within, from God and Goddess. And since they did so together, they increased the divine presence. It was a very ecstatic and also sober feast of communion.

During our art courses over the last 15 years, we celebrated such feasts. A deep experience of community grew out of the “Washing Line” art course. One can sense what it was that made the art students be so deeply and quietly moved that they kept on painting for hours without ever leaving their boards. One should not label these things too early, but it is good to perceive them. They touch an experience of joy that has no name, because it does not come from our world. Something is different when one now looks out over a landscape or into water, something has changed when one looks out into the world. We call this the gentle “turning of the frequency”. And it sometimes occurs as imperceptibly as do all great things.




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