The Mystery and Wonder of Human Being
Integral Life presented this past September the first of two galleries devoted to the work of one of today’s great living visionary artists: De Es. While that gallery highlighted pictures disclosing the orders and forces of manifestation, this month’s offering focuses on artworks pondering the mystery and glory of being human.
In the opening works on display this month, the human being is presented as woven into the Light-fabric of the Kosmos, able to reflect on, engage, and celebrate the paradox of being One with what is and also determinately Other. In Spark a figure holds a yellow beam; its body shimmering with this very color — Light holding Light — human being joyously knowing the source of its own essence, the essence of All.
In the second group of works on display, Stone rather than Light is the central metaphor for the essential substance of humanity. In Thinking we view from below a monolithic human head located in clear blue sky. Smaller stones orbit the head, human being and thought made of the same stuff. The face is dignified, the monolithic form majestic; with the status of thinking nonetheless withdrawing from immediate sense. Stone lacks an “inside”—the philosopher Heidegger called the element of Earth “the self-concealing”1—for when one breaks stone one finds only more stone, an elemental movement signaling a mysterious and impenetrable opacity. What then are we to make of the dignity of thinking?—the orbiting stones around the head are indeed like a solar system in vast empty expanse, Kosmic in effect; yet all the while finite and limited in being proper to this single human presence.
De Es’s art de-familiarizes our taken for granted sense of what it means to be human. Please take your time to allow these subtle and profound images to crack your soul wide open to the sheer mystery and extraordinary gifts of being here now, just as you are.
From the artist:
“My formula for the stonepaintings revealed itself when grass and trees were no longer relevant to the world of strange phenomena in which I was immersed. Stone turned into a symbol for all matter.
The strength of stone was able to communicate the idea that man is in a constant struggle to fulfill the desire to be strong, to live long, to transcend a body made of flesh and bone and to defy gravity. My images depict light as the source of all matter with man striving to be reunited with it in a quest to transcend the limitations of matter.”
– De Es Schwertberger