Navigating the Spiritual Void: Reflections on Modernist Art in the Post-Modern Era
Rediscovering the Sacred
Modernist art, with its emphasis on self-expression, abstract forms, and universal truths, reflects the painter's sense of spiritual duty to inspire meaning in a world experiencing increasing nihilism and material devaluation of higher values. Abstract expressionist painters sought to connect with the divine through their work, believing that art could transcend ordinary perception and offer a glimpse into a transcendent state. However, as we navigate the post-modern era, characterized by political tribalism and a void of spirituality, it becomes crucial to reexamine the philosophies of The Dao and the importance of embracing a deeper sense of being.
In the heyday of modernism, abstract expressionists were influenced by the pioneering psychological insights of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, exploring the depths of the unconscious mind. Theosophical principles also played a role in their artistic endeavors, underpinning their belief in the existence of universal truths and higher realities. This convergence of psychological exploration and spiritual yearning gave rise to the conviction that art could not only inspire the artist but also connect the audience with the divine qualities inherent in the creative process.
However, the post-modern era presents a different landscape. The western world finds itself grappling with a void of spirituality and transcendence, as materialistic pursuits and an obsession with self-love dominate contemporary culture. The hunger for divine fulfillment has been overshadowed by a ceaseless quest for material goods and validation through virtual reality and technological advancements. Moreover, the rise of nihilistic social justice activism and political tribalism has displaced the focus on inner awareness and spiritual connection with the world and each other.
In this era of hyper-individuality, mass media perpetuates a culture of persona and ego, leading many to remain trapped in a cycle of shallow "self-love." The deeper sense of oneness that comes from connecting with others and the natural world has been obscured by the commodification of art and the commercialization of spirituality. The spiritual essence of abstract art has been overshadowed by its market value and consumer appeal.
To address the spiritual void in contemporary culture, it is essential to examine philosophies like The Dao, which encourages awareness, being in pure consciousness, and flowing with life's cycles. Additionally, psychoanalysis can help uncover and heal the unconscious aspects of our lives, fostering a deeper connection with our true selves and the world around us.
Modernist thinkers and artists can offer valuable insights in this pursuit. The idea of "art for art's sake" can be extended beyond creativity to encompass "Being for Being's sake." Transcendence, in this context, involves embracing our existence and moving with awareness and radical acceptance through life's journey. It entails going beyond the ephemeral material pursuits and living with intention, grounded in the present moment and interconnected with the natural world.
In conclusion, modernist art provides us with glimpses of the artist's spiritual and philosophical duty to inspire meaning and transcendence. However, contemporary culture finds itself in a state of spiritual void, where materialism, virtual reality, and political tribalism have taken precedence over inner awareness and connection. To overcome this, we must revisit the teachings of The Dao, embrace psychoanalysis, and reexamine the spiritual aspects of modernist art. By doing so, we can strive for a deeper sense of being and transcendence, paving the way for a more spiritually fulfilling and harmonious existence in our post-modern world.