Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Colour Of Knowledge

The Colour of Knowledge Oil on linen 62 x 82 cm

I attended a fabulous workshop some time ago which opened up a plethora of images and ideas for me. I have referred to this workshop in my previous post http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com/2009/11/beyond-dark-night-of-soul.html

During the workshop we discussed the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a parable for the concept that in order to know who we are we also need to know who we are not. I think this makes sense! In an age where people are attempting to learn more about themselves through psychology [mainstream, alternative and pop], checklists, agony aunt type letters, astrology...and the list goes on...it is interesting to ferret out stories and parables which may hold some universal and possibly helpful truths. As the story goes, prior to Eve plucking the apple from the tree and she and Adam taking a few bites, their existence was one of pure oneness or, I imagine, whiteness where they were enfolded and consumed by light. This could be described as the divine light where Adam and Eve were 'One' with the divine.

However, as a result of Eve and Adam taking from the tree of knowledge, they caused a metaphorical refraction of the white light by introducing worldly knowledge. For the first time Adam and Eve could see each other as their eyes were greeted with a world that cascaded into colour and its various hues. Another way to view this is that they were now able to experience good and evil/error [and everything in between!], the mechanisms needed to know who you are not...before knowing who you are.

Now, the human [represented by Adam and Eve] quest in the story is to gain the knowledge of who we are by experiencing who we are not, hence all the vagaries from birth to death that can engulf or embrace us on our life journeys. But, the human experience is also to reflect upon the 'knowledge' gained in the quest, in order to, at some point ultimately feel and experience a deep and true knowing of who we really are. Reflection upon oneself can be difficult! A miniquest within the main quest!

So, after this brief description of the parable you can probably 'see' why I was so inspired. Readers of my BLOG know of my intense interest in the tree-of-life/knowledge motif and my visual attempts to portray it in ways which 'speak' to a contemporary 21st century audience. Like any archetype it needs to have a potency which can be 'read' throughout the ages...otherwise it can't be an archetype I suppose!

The story is one which also shared by the three Abrahamaic religions. I am interested in the fact that through a sharing of the basic story we are forever connected.

So, my new painting above is called 'The Colour Of Knowledge'. Adam and Eve, representing the human race, are depicted at the moment Eve is created from Adam's rib, hence he is still asleep. I have previously written about this in other recent posts http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com/2009/09/where-is-your-paradise.html
http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com/2009/09/adam-and-eveleft-and-right-brain.html http://kathrynbrimblecombeart.blogspot.com/2009/08/garden-of-eden.html
The tree radiates from Eve's outstretched arms. But, Adam and Eve and the initial branches of the tree are white. If the world is all white [or One] differences are not discernible, but as colour cascades, the world fills with nuance, difference, variety, distance, perspective, opposites...all elements that allow the human race to explore who they are by providing the potential to experience who they are not. The quest for identity! I have painted the 'sky' with what appears to be a multitude of stars to 'ask' the question...once we know who we are do we, in fact, return to the white light?

ADDED 7-11-10
This painting is one of the 52 finalists, from over 440 entries, in the Redlands Art Prize.  http://www.redlandartawards.org.au/

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