In this painting there are three major systems:
- The lines, which are in purple, olive green and one little line is in blue.
- The areas of color that appear to be behind the lines.
- The red areas that are inside of shapes, delineated by some of the purple lines.
Many times it is enough to describe with words what you see in a picture, to know what it is about. This indeed is one of the ways to read art.
The system of lines that has its story, appears on the background of nothing. The story may be that the lines describe something, that some of them do something to other lines, that some are purple and some are in other colors, etc. The background of nothing is the white that has no features except that there are no colors and no shapes in it.
The system of colored areas appears behind the line system. The colored shapes system has its own story. It is not being told in continuous lines or shapes. Things appear mostly unconnected. But you can feel relationships. For example, you can feel that all the greens belong to each other because of having the same color. All the shapes, because of their general outline, which is softly rounded, without sharp points or angles, all of them are of the same kind. This whole system appears in the same proximity of the lines system, and therefore the two systems seem to be related to each other, as if they are parts of the same thing. How about seeing this as a person and his emotional system. (Here I went beyond just describing what I see. I added an idea that seemed to make sense to me.)
There is one shape among the colored areas that is different. It is the blue one that looks like a river or a road. It goes from close to us to another place far away that we do not see. This may be the path of life on which we float with ease or with struggles. (again, an interpretation. It can be something else too. But something that leads the eye far away, to where you cannot see the end, these can be seen.)
Now let’s take the reds, which got caught within some of the purple lines that created closed shapes. Usually in the picture, the lines go freely to wherever they go. They describe shapes, that you have a feeling are not finally determined. These shapes still can grow, shrink or move. But these areas that caught the red inside of them seem to be more final. Their muscles are stretched and tense, holding the red and preventing it from changing. This is where the happily and freely flowing human system is becoming hard and inflexible. This goes against the nature of free flow and therefore it is the place of suffering.
And all of this appears to play in an environment of no features (the white). This is not a physical portrait in a realistic environment. It is the inner experience of life, created in awareness and experienced in awareness, done and felt in the same moment. Doing and experiencing here are not separate.
And if you see that, where do you choose to place your identification? What part do you choose to be?
Here is another way to look at it:
There are two big systems that relate to each other harmoniously. There is no event in that. Only a continuous flow. The two systems can go on and change together, every one of them in its own related way to the other. They can go on forever. But the minute the regularity is broken by an unusual behavior that occurred in a few parts, an event is created and it starts to be interesting. That’s life.
Where was the identification, when it happened?
It was in the parts that caught the red. “I must have this red in me,” said the ‘I’ who identified with these parts. Before, there was freedom there. But now the travelling ’I’ became imprisoned in his own choice.
I used to be a graphic designer and an illustrator. I became involved with the Chan Meditation Center and studied meditation and Buddhist knowledge with the late Master Sheng-yen from Taiwan. For twelve years I was in a process of deepening my meditation. I had many more experiences and insights and my life changed. After having illustrated more than 40 children’s books and writing two of them, I left this career too and went to New York University to study art therapy.