<span lang='en'>Accident in Art</span>

Accident in Art

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The modern artists already reached into the concept of the accident; that the accident was not to be pushed out of the frame of the artwork, as had been done previously; the idea being that only what is intentional is worth presenting; rather the moderns allowed the accident a place in the work, in keeping with the notion that art should draw closer to the realm of life itself, which is full of accident, so to speak; as part of a general trend, as I have stated elsewhere, of a search for truth.

For our purposes, that is; from the aspect of the understanding of the Torah, where we understand that there is no accident; rather that all that happens is via Divine Providence; in any case there is distinction between intended and unintended acts…there is, of course, very much to speak about in this realm, but my intention here is to focus on one aspect of my artworks, with which my intention in them is solely to serve Hashem Yisborach; that is to create vessels by which one is drawn closer to the service of Hashem, Yisborach. That artworks can and should be works of Torah, and as such they must escape from the realm of illusion and fantasy and falsehood altogether, for certainly anything that has even a small part of falsehood in it is, by definition, not Torah.

[And even though there are many levels of truth, without end, one below the other, starting from the emanation from the Ein Sof, Baruch Hu, and descending through all the worlds until its taking physical form in this the lowest world; and here in this world the truth; that is, the absolute oneness of the Blessed One is so to speak retracted through a vast multitude of retractions in order for it to be manifest in this world, or in another language, the light of Hashem is clothed and wrapped in various clothings, in order for us to have a grasp of it here; nevertheless, as has been noted by one tzaddik, if one grasps the king through a hundred garments, still he grasps the King. Therefore it is seen, that even though the truth is wrapped in endless wrappings, all these wrappings are adjunctions of the truth itself and therefore part of it; which is not the case of falsehood, which is from the other side; from the klipah, which is the opposite of truth and of holiness. Therefore artwork, even were it to be the most external garments of holiness, nevertheless it must escape entirely from the realm of falsehood.]

Any search for truth; that is, all efforts to serve Hashem, Yisborach, is a matter of unceasing toil, for the nature of a person pulls him towards the physical and away from Hashem. Therefore; at least the beginnings of all Divine service is against one’s nature, and therefore a great effort. Thus so, in this particular form of Divine service; that which one must try to elevate to the realm of Divine Service, the making of artworks, it is great effort, to pull it from the realm of falsehood into the realm of truth. Therefore one must implement any strategy that one  can for easing this task, and one of the strategies is to admit the accident into the world of the picture.

A small bit of water spills onto the pen drawing I have been laboring upon. Has it been ‘ruined’? Perhaps not. It I can be looked at it this way; My personal will in my work sometimes approaches Hashem’s will; that is, what He desires for me to do, and other times it is simply my will and not His will, Heaven forbid. But the spilling of water is certainly entirely His will! That is, because it comes into my world, even against my will, it is certainly not caught up with the imperfections of my pure will to serve Hashem, and can rather be seen as purely His will. The wise already understand this, and for the not yet wise it would take much explanation.

In addition to admitting the accident into the picture, I often seek to circumvent the dominance my personal will, as a strategy to submit my will more freely to Hashem’s will. Thus often I will choose a color to start or continue my artwork randomly, blindly, so to speak, without preference in one way or another. By this I seek to bring the work in consort with life itself, which ‘happens’ to us despite our will. Hashem Yisborach presents before us, each and every moment, a new reality with with which we must grasp and seek to perform His will. [It is important to note that the recognition, alone, that that which is ‘happening to me’ is the work of Hashem and a ‘tailor designed’ message to me, this recognition, alone, is already a very great accomplishment. Even though I don’t understand the meaning of the message yet, or, all the more so, how it is proper for me to react to it; nevertheless, the knowledge that it is His will and message for me, this is the first and most important step, and the rest should follow, in time, with Hashem’s help, according to how much one strives to understand.] We do not choose what will happen to us. Therefore by accepting “whatever color Hashem decides should come into my hand at this time, from here I will try to perform His will, from here I will try to improve my picture.” This is a description of one method of trying to elevate picture making from being expressions of my will to being expressions of His will. This is a very important subject and needs to be treated at length, be’ezrat Hashem. I hope I have opened some small opening into the matter.

featured image:

לבטוח בה’ בכל לבבך

(מארחות חיים של הרא”ש, ז”ל יום א’, כ”ו)

 לִבְטוֹחַ בַּה’ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּלְהַאֲמִין בְּהַשְּׁגָּחָתוֹ הַפְּרָטִית. וּבָזֶה תְּקַיֵּם בִּלְבָבְךָ  הַיִּחוּד הַשָּׁלֵם, בְּהַאֲמִין בּוֹ כִּי עֵינָיו מְשּׁוֹטְטוֹת בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ, וְעֵינָיו עַל כָּל דַּרְכֵי אִישּׁ, וּבוֹחֵן לֵב וְחוֹקֵר כְּלָיוֹת, כִּי מִי שֶּׁאֵינוֹ מַאֲמִין ”אֲשֶּׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם” אַף ”בְּאָנֹכִי ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ” אֵינוֹ מַאֲמִין. וְאֵין זֶה יִיחוּד שָּׁלֵם. כִּי זֶה הָיָה [נ”א הוּא] סְגֻלַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל כָּל הָעַמִּים וְזֶה יְסוֹד כָּל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּה

Trust in Hashem with all your heart, and believe in His Providence upon every detail [of the world.] In this way you will fulfill in your heart the perfect Unity of Hashem, by believing that His eyes roam over the entire world, and His eyes are upon all the ways of men, testing the heart and analyzing feelings [i.e. for “Unity of Hashem” implies not merely that G-d exists and is the Creator, but His total awareness and guidance of all events, without exception]. For whoever does not believe the verse “…Who took you out of the land of Egypt” [Shemos 20:2, which teaches Hashem’s control of nature], also does not believe [the beginning of that verse]: “I am Hashem your G-d” and [such a flawed belief] is not the perfect Unity. This [complete faith] is Israel’s unique treasure above all the nations and this [true] belief is the foundation of the entire Torah.

(From the Path of Life by Rabbenu Asher, z”l)

Oil on canvas

ציור שמן על קנבס

תשע”ג-תשע”ז

50 cm. x 70 cm.

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