It seems natural that visual artists, painters, film makers and photographers, would be most interested in painting or photographing what they can see. In other words, revealing what’s “real.
However, many artists are intrigued by what we can’t see, by what is hidden from our sight. We’re aware of the presence of something– in ourselves or out-there somewhere– but we can’t see it. How do we then give it a form; how do we reveal it so that other people can be as aware of its presence as we are?
Here’s a poem by the Nobel prize-winning Spanaird, Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) that points to the heart of the matter (translated by Robert Bly):
I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.
The first response of many of us is to demand answers: what in the world is he talking about? The spirit? Life after death? The soul? Reincarnation? Where do Jesus, or Buddha fit into all of this?