slide 10 of 10
This slideshow has attempted to reveal to readers new to the study of traditional sacred art some aspects of its incredible depth. Because the modern West has divorced itself from this ancient way of seeing art and seeing the Divine through it, we often have to approach it as something new, rather than as something as old as the earliest cave paintings, as elevated as the familiar vault of the night sky, and as deep as the human hearts beating within us. We can think of no better way to approach sacred art as a new experience than through the reading of such an inspiring and edifying book as Sacred Art in East and West
by the great Traditionalist/Perennialist author Titus Burckhardt
We will close with a quote from Sacred Art in East and West
that follows from the previous slide's comments on Taoist painting. It emphasizes the vast difference in approach and goal between modern art and sacred art, leading us to the possible conclusion that great contemplative rewards await those who look to sacred art with an open mind, a humble heart, and a thirst for our Divine birthright:
"Attempts have been made to relate this style to European impressionism, as if the starting points of each were not radically different, despite certain accidental analogies. When impressionism relativizes the characteristic and stable contours of things in favour of an instantaneous effect of atmosphere, it is because it is seeking, not the presence of a cosmic reality superior to individual objects, but on the contrary a subjective impression as fleeting as it could be; in this case it is the ego, with its wholly passive and affective sensibility, that colours the scene. Taoist painting on the contrary avoids from the start, in its method and in its intellectual orientation, the hold of mind and feeling, avid as they are of individualistic affirmations; in its eyes the instantaneity of nature, with all its inimitable and almost unseizable qualities, is not in the first place an emotional experience; that is to say the emotion found in nature is not in any way individualistic nor even homocentric; its vibration dissolves in the serene calm of contemplation. The miracle of the instant immobilized by a sensation of eternity, unveils the primordial harmony of things, a harmony that is ordinarily hidden under the subjective continuity of the mind. When this veil is suddenly torn, hitherto unobserved relationships, linking together beings and things, reveal their essential unity. A particular painting may represent, for instance, two herons on the bank of a stn in springtime one of them gazes into the depths of the waters, the other holds up his head listening, and in their two momentary yet static attitudes they are mysteriously at one with the water, with the reeds bent by the wind, with the mountain tops appearing over the mist. By way of a single aspect of virgin nature, the timeless has touched the soul of the painter like a lightning stroke."