Thursday, November 5, 2015

From Russia with Love: Making a Life of Beauty, Simplicity and Fearlessness

Tibet Himalayas, 1933by Nicholas Roerich (courtesy of Vanishing Ice)

Nicholas Roerich was a Russian, one of those crazy Russians who believed in beauty and art and culture as the means to create peace. Well, if he's crazy, then I sure would like some of whatever he had. Bring it on, that's what I say. Here's just a tiny snippet of what he said, as quoted in a very groovy book called Nicholas Roerich: A Master of the Mountains by Barnett D Conlan:
'... every Art creation is a dynamo charged with uplifting energy and a real
generator of enthusiasm and he (Roerich) looks to Art as the most effective instrument for leading towards a life of 'Beauty, Simplicity and Fearlessness', to a
'Fearlessness which possesses the sword of courage and which smites down
vulgarity in all its forms, even though it be adorned in riches.'

In the years before World War II Roerich set up what he called Centers of Culture around the world. I don't know too much about this aspect of his work, but I plan to check it out. His idea was that Art and Culture were the perfect tools for attaining peace. He was a painter (I went to his house in Naggar in the Himalayas in India which is now a gallery and museum. His paintings are almost not of this world; ethereal and radiating a kind of gentle but powerful energy of their own. If you want to see some of his paintings, go to this link), an explorer, linguist (he was the first to compile dictionaries for various Tibetan and other central Asian languages), and a writer.

I've been thinking about what he says about every work of art being a dynamo full of uplifting energy. Whether you are an artist or not, you are bound to feel this sometimes when creating or looking at a piece of art, in whatever medium. Of course it is also true to say that so much of what passes for 'art' or 'culture' is lacking in any energy at all; it's lifeless, made to serve the needs of the ego, the market or some other materialistic purpose. And then there is the art that, while it might be that dynamo full of energy that Roerich describes, has been created with sinister or destructive purpose in mind and emanates a whole other kind of energy.

I guess what I'm saying is that it is the intention of the artist that is key. Most of the artists I know (including myself) create with the intent of making something from our hearts, from our souls, and that we can put out there into the world carrying goodwill with it. These artists (me too) seek to record and interpret the world around us in a way that is enriching for others as well as, of course, for ourselves.

Whether we are aware of it or not, every time we unleash that 'dynamo charged with uplifting energy', we are contributing towards a life of  'Beauty, Simplicity and Fearlessness' for all of us. There could not be a more positive, more true reason for creating Art ... whatever that means for you.

Peace from me to you

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