Expressive Arts Focusing - Creative Compassion Blog February 22, 2023 ©Freda Blob
GlaswindowIllustration by Adolf Hölzel | Abstraction II | 1915 – 1916 | State Gallery Stuttgart
Shortly before the museum is closing I enter the exhibition room. It shows small sized pastels of German artist Adolf Hölzel with abstract colour composititons. The pastels are simple and masterly same time. I think: Here is someone working his art to a beauty of completion.
Days later the pastel compositions are still alive inside. I ask myself: Why is this memory so vivid? My body is giving information - something about the pastels has been soothing and comforting. Something in the exhibition room has given me what I miss in life. What is this something about?
I understand that there has been more than pastels hanging at the wall. I sit down to listen to my body visualizing the exhibition room again and again.
An inner rhythm comes up as a feeling. It then shifts to a movement. I feel I have found a rhythm matching my bodily stored memory. The rhythm is in conjunction with verbalization.
I know there is a word to come but this word is not in my native language. I instinctively know the first letter of this word. It starts with capital "S". I try different words with "S". No English word does match.
I realize the match has to come primarily from the body. The body is holding a knowledge I do not hold. And then, a very strange and complicated word shows up: Serenity.
Serenity - This word has never been part of my English spoken vocabulary but I own its rhythm.
There is a deep shift inside: Something good has been around this 1920-30s art exhibited not to be grasped. Now a symbolization has occured opening up to something further and it comes from embodied rhythm.
Se-re-ni-ty. The rhythm of the word makes me think of something spiritual like the word 'Tri-ni-ty'. I am surpized looking up the dictionary. Serenity is the quality of being peaceful and calm. Is that all? So simple?
One the insights of Prof. EUGENE T. GENDLIN, founder of Focusing, is this: Life is thicker than theory. There must be more in the word serenity than the dictionary can tell, I say to myself.
I decide to recapture Adolf Hölzel's pastel compositions through art practice. I feel I have to experiment with them for to feel them. Reproducing them might shift them into new forms. Will those new forms embark a More of....?
I know from experience: Any form coming from the body sense is forwarding meaning freshly. A More of is coming from the form matching the body sense.
It feels I have found something meaningful to deal with as a long term project. A part inside has always felt at loss in the world seeking for belonging. Arts engagement with Hölzel's pastels looks like a place to explore this part from a place of empathic curiosity.
Hölzel's pastel compositions, illuminating peace and calm in the midst of desastrous times, holding a More of ...., are like a lighthouse - an art refuge for building compassion, resilience and action for the good.