SOME REFLECTIONS BY THE ARTIST
given by Arie Trum from The Netherlands
at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the
Carmelite Institute, Washington, D.C., on March 22, 1996.
In the early spring of 1992 one of my
best friends Kees Waaijman, a Dutch Carmelite, asked me to create--what
he called--a "visual interpretation" of the Rule, with
the text written in Dutch, of course. Three years later I met
Jack Welch in Rome, and he asked me to do the same in the English
language. The results of this question you can see here today.
When I started playing with sportzonabrasil.com.br/ the idea, my first idea was to make
a combination of image and text, that is, a painted illustration
or drawing and text, like I do in most of my free works of art.
However, soon enough I left that idea.
"No Image Satisfies" was the
title of an exhibition of art held in Rotterdam in 1991 on the
occasion of the celebration of the fourth centenary of John of
the Cross. Sometimes one must indeed come to the conclusion that
images do not satisfy. Stronger even: do only lead away from
what is essential. Bad luck for the artist; however, a wise lesson
at the same time. "No image satisfies." That seemed
certainly here to be the case, because in my opinion Carmel-spirituality
cannot be safely reduced to or caught in an image.
Now, does this mean I can only use a
written text? I certainly do not hope so, because somehow I have
this vague suspicion that I am going to need a very strong, but
sober, universal symbolic sign. Reading and re-reading the Rule
and the meditations on the Rule by Kees Waaijman,I certainly
do not get the feeling that I am only dealing with letters, words,
ideas and their pure rational meaning. After all a Carmel-life
does not exist of Rule only. It is true that in my imagination
Appear enough pictures and www.sportzonabrasil.com.br symbols, but developed into a quick
sketch, they do not fascinate me long enough. There is, however,
one image appearing continuously at the horizon of my imagination:
AN OPEN SPACE, A PLACE IN THE CENTER. That image is gradually
becoming more and more important and more essential. Obviously
I have to work that out. I do have to create a center, do have
to make room, to create space. Even if I should have to interrupt
the written lines for that purpose, no problem. That center,
that space seems to be important enough. Even the Rule has to
make way for that.
Now it is my feeling that I have to
enclose the center by a circle, at least a closed round form
without end, without beginning. This enclosed center should not
just become an ordinary center. No, it should become a radiating
center, a very much alive center, an inviting center, your center,
my center, THE CENTER. That is why I must decorate the circle
with the most noble and most precious metal there is: GOLD, the
ancient symbol of the Divine. Gold reflects light and it is the
Light that I am going to need.
An open circle, that is, the enclosed
inner space, is also to be experienced as a passage, a gate that
leads into real life--life as it is brought to life by Jesus
of Nazareth. The circle is also the cell of 2. the Carmelite
where the small "p" of the word "place" gradually
transforms into a capital "P" 50 that the "Lodging"
can do God's work. All other images that I could think of, how
beautiful or how interesting one could draw or paint them, will
not be fit to hold a candle to this simple, sober but magnificent
symbol: the circle enclosing space, room, interior, begin, end,
begin. "The end of the journey forms the beginning of our
strides," I read in the meditation of Kees. I cannot escape
from that idea any more. This is what I have to do. Whatever
part of the Rule I read, every https://www.sportzonabrasil.com.br time I come to the same conclusion.
And the circle should be drawn in the center of the sheet, because
CENTER and SPACE are the two ideas that I come across every time
again. SPACE. "Through the Rule of Carmel I am being lead
into the space of God," I read somewhere. I am very glad
I did not allow myself to be tempted by the idea of drawing hermits
in front of their caves, or drawing a picture of the prophet
Elia at the spring, or Albert the Patriarch with his entourage
handing over the Rule to the Carmel brothers. This has all been
done many times before. No, everything I need now must be very
sober, without decoration, without finery, without image--bare,
poor, empty in the sense of: becoming bare and empty for God.
Now I must hold on to that idea and get to work now without interruption.
A circle does not know interruptions.
The inside of the circle is also the
oratory in the center of the cells, the cells where the brothers
or sisters are occupied. Occupied with conception. Where the
living God x-rays their interiors.
The center, the open space, the place
where the brothers or Sisters are to come together every morning.
Not by force but conveniently, searching for their own center
as well, every day again. The golden circle also represents the
rising sun, conquering the night, symbol of the resurrection
of Christ, the center of time. If you, however, take a close
look at the golden circle, you will discover that in this very
human and very earthly golden sun there is also a lot of shadow
to be seen.
The written text of the Rule does not
only exist of separate words and lines. Being written rather
close upon, it forms a unity, a structure. And a structure is
characterized by connection, so that the structure does not fall
apart. The structure saves the connection.
The text has been written horizontally
and vertically, together forming a cross. The written lines are
being interrupted by the circle-- the circle enclosing emptiness.
That emptiness, that unfilled space means that there is more
truth than anyone in the world could explain to us. That there
is more reality than we can reach and that there are no words
for. In this emptiness the things happen that cannot be manipulated.
That is why you see an empty center, symbol of the unpredictable
reality, the mystery of God in God's inaccessible light. In this
empty center we cannot force anything to our will. Our attitude
will therefore be: surrender, confidence, let it happen. To go
to that center, every day again to find "Nothing" and
"Everything" at the same time. I do hope that while
creating this work my own center became emptier as well. If you
want to be creative at all, you are going to need an empty soul.
Finally, having burnished the last square
inch of gold leaf, I cannot really decide whether my work is
finished or not, at least not in the sense I learned in art school
with questions like: is the color to my liking? Is the composition
right? These questions have been answered during the making.
It seems not to matter any more. After all I have the feeling
that this work has not been created according to a rational plan.
As a chess-player I should have failed, because all the time
I have only thought one move ahead. Subconsciously I have used
the power still dormant in people--and in myself--to be appealed
to by mystery, by the unmentionable.
The moment I feel that I no longer view
the work as creator, but rather as spectator--even though I happen
to have created it--I can step back from it and think of it as
"a story told," as "a journey ended." No
longer do I see the work then as "artificially made"
but more as "naturally developed." The transformation
is completed and I myself have become an outsider who--just as
any other viewer--can decide whether to begin a new dialogue
with the work, in which everyone can follow in his or her own
way the process, once begun with the first insecure sketches
For those spectators, I would like to
conclude with the words of the mystic: read on, there is perhaps
more written than there is written. Dare to read and to look
and you will change and your world will be transformed into a
new and significant unity.
Thank you for allowing me to make this
work. Thank you for listening to my thoughts. May God bless you
Arie Trum Jsz.
Some technical information might be
interesting. The calligraphy Of the original handwritten rule--from
which this print has been made-was written with a goose quill.
I prefer to write with a quill rather than a steel nib. A goose
quill is the most precise and most sensitive writing instrument
there is. While writing, it becomes part of you hand and follows
exactly one's movements. The lettering has been written with
thinned tempera-paint, which is a mixture of
pure pigments and the yolk of an egg. Thinned with enough distilled
water in order to make the paint fluid enough to write with.
It forms an ideal "ink."
The time needed for writing the test
from top to bottom is between seven and eight hours, provided
that all necessary preparations have been made. These are amongst
others: the design, which is, of course, the most important part
of the whole process; colors and sort of paper to be used; and
the size of the lettering, which relates to the size of my quill.
(The quill itself as well as the size, is cut with a special
pen-knife). The text must be written in one session. One could
not afford to have a break somewhere half-way, for one would
immediately see the difference afterwards in the writing-rhythm.
From this original, which is a little
larger than this print (100 x 55 cm) an edition of 500 copies
has been made through a silk-screen process. Every copy is numbered
and signed, and the golden circle is gilded by hand on every
single copy in order to maintain and guarantee its uniqueness.
Because I preferred to use the so called
"variegated gold" instead of one-colored gold leaf,
the circle on every copy differs from the other. This is because
the pattern in the gold leaf--consisting of oxidized copper--is
different on every single leaf.
Those who would like to have this print
framed might follow these instructions: Go to a professional
framing shop. See that your print is provided with a 100% acid-free
cardboard madding (passe-partout). The color of the madding should
be the same sort of warm-grey as the print, BUT lighter. Please
do not use a frame with too much gold in it. The gold will distract
the attention from the circle. The color of the framing should
be in accordance with the colors of the madding and the paper
and should not be of too much contrast, so that the circle plays
the leading part instead of the frame.
A 17.25 x 31.5 silk-screened copy with
the gold-leafed circle done by hand by Arie Trum is sent as a
gift to each person or group that sends a minimum donation of
$500.00 to the Carmelite Institute.