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Social Gathekas


Social Gatheka Number 40

Many think that art is something different from nature, but, if I were to say, art is the finishing of nature. And one may ask, 'can man improve upon nature which is made by God.' But the fact is that God Himself, through man finishes his creation in art. As all different elements are God's vehicles, as all the trees and plants are His instruments to create through, so art is the medium of God, through which God Himself creates and finishes His creation.

No doubt every so-called art is not necessarily art. By looking at the real art man is able to see that 'thy will is done on earth as in heaven.' In this whole creation, from one thing to another, through evolution the Creator has worked. In man the Creator has finished, so to speak, nature, but at the same time the creative faculty is still working through man. Therefore art is the next step towards creation. In reality all creation, scientific or artistic, is art, but mainly, the object which is produced with the sense of beauty and which appeals to the sense of beauty in man is principally art.

Besides being the creative power of God it is the expression of the soul of the artist. An artist cannot give what he has not collected, although man ignores the way how, the artist's soul conceives, only recognizing what the soul of the artist has produced. Once it is understood that the artist conceives also, not only produces, then it is not so difficult for a man with an awakened heart to see into the soul of an artist. For art in color, in line is nothing but the re-echo of his soul. If the soul of the artist is going through torture, his picture gives one the feeling of awe; if the soul of the artist is enjoying harmony, you will see harmony in his colors, in the lines. What does it show? It shows that the soul works automatically through the brush of the artist. The more deeply the artist is touched by the beauty that his soul conceives from outside, the greater appeal it makes to those who see his production.

Now coming to the question what is it in line and color which has such an influence on man's faculty? It is the vibrations which the color produces which thrill the centers which are hidden in the body and which are the centers of the intuitive faculties. So a person looks at a color and immediately feels thrilled by it. Each degree of vibrations that different colors produce is different and therefore the influence is different. At the same time one person is more open to the effect and influence, another person is so blocked that upon him colors make little impression; and the same reason may be said to be the cause that makes woman more responsive to color and to line than man. For woman by nature is responsive, man by nature is expressive; therefore while woman receives the impression of the color man repels it. But, at the same time, the difference between a man with fine feeling, with intuitive faculty awakened and a man whose faculties are not yet opened is only this that the former responds to the color and the latter does not.

Now coming to the question of strong colors and soft colors. Strong colors make more distinct vibrations, there effect is more distinct that that of soft colors and therefore it is natural that the strong colors can make impression upon every soul, but, at the same time, to distinguish the impression made by soft colors wants delicacy of sense. For instance, the simple words of language of everyday life are understood by everyone, but the fine shades which follow the words are not understood by everybody. Therefore, color, which is only a color to everybody, to a person with a fine sense has its value, its degree of influence.

The harmony of color is based on the same foundation as the harmony of music. The reason is that music is audible vibrations, color is the visible form of vibrations. But from the metaphysical point of view, color has a great significance in man's life. The first important thing that is to be understood in connection with color is that different colors come from the essence of light. All different colors are the different degrees of light. No doubt there are three aspects of light and it is this which produces confusion in the mind of those who have not thought upon the subject.

If the color can be called light, then these three aspects of light are in this way: one aspect of light which manifests through the color, the radiance of the color itself; the next aspect is the light of the sun or of something else which throws its light upon the color, the light of the color responds to that light; the third light is the light of the eyes, which sees, therefore the same color is not the same, nor is its influence the same for everybody, not for the reason that the degree of the light falls on the subject is different or that the degree of the color is different, but also the element which that particular color represents has a certain degree of response, to a certain extent in an individual.

According to the mystical idea there are four principal elements which can be distinguished and one which is indistinct. The distinct elements are, earth, water, fire and air. Not according to the sense in which a scientist would take it, but according to the meaning that the mystic sees. It will take, perhaps, time if I tried to explain the difference between the mystical conception and that of the scientist. The indistinct element is the ether. All these elements are in the body of man, in his mind and in his deeper self.

The whole building of an individual existence is built by these five elements, and it is not necessary that on every plane of existence a certain element is predominant, which continues to be predominant in every plane. I mean that it is not a certain predominant element, which is in one plane, continues to be predominant in all planes. It is possible that there can be harmony in the elements which are predominant in the inner plane with those that are predominant in the outer plane. In short, it is according to the working of the different elements in one's being that one is responsive to the different colors which represent the different elements. From the point of view of a mystic, yellow is the color of the earth, green or white the color of the water element, red that of the fire element and blue of the air element. If the color of the ether element was asked, the mystic answers gray. By gray you man think anything you like. It is most interesting for a student of color to see that all colors are, so to speak, different shades of light. And what does it show? It shows that light itself has manifested in variety in the form of many colors.

Now coming on the question of line. Many lovers or students of art feel a great influence, a great effect that a line makes. A vertical line, a horizontal line, a line with a curve, a circle, it makes such a difference in the form. And the more one studies to what extent line makes a difference, the more one will find that the secret of the whole beauty is in the line. And it is difficult to say what form, what line is the right line, and man has to accept that what one cannot learn by study, intuition teaches.

The only reason, that from the mystical point of view one can give about the secret of line, is that the effect of a certain line arranges the inner and outer planes of the human being in such a condition that for a moment one looks at the line, one is, so to speak, in a kind of spell of that line. The secret of this can be found in the secret of concentration, that every object man thinks about, be it for a moment, has a effect upon his whole being.

And there is a harmony between lines. The harmony of lines is more difficult and more complex to understand than even the harmony of color, and the harmony of lines touches deeper that the harmony of color. If a room is beautifully furnished with costly furniture, but if the things are not kept in harmony according to the science of lines, you will find a kind of confusion in the room. The same thing in dress. The dress may be costly, beautiful in color, and if it lacks line, it lacks a great deal in beauty. Therefore in art line is the principle thing. It is the secret of art and it is the secret of its charm, and only the artist who has conceived the beauty of line can express it in his art.

Art has three aspects. One aspect is that the artist tries to copy exactly that which he sees. That artist is contemplative, and it is not a small thing to be able to copy exactly the object. For the success of this artist is sure. With all man's craving for something new, what really he wants is something he has seen. Is it not something wonderful, is it not great to be able to copy nature as it is, to produce the same in the soul of man as is in nature?

Another aspect of art is the improvement on nature which the artist makes by exaggeration. And the benefit of this art is more attraction than impression. No doubt in this form of art the artist can fulfill his soul's purpose. But at the same time the artist may go far away from nature, and the further he goes the more he destroys the beauty of art. For nature and art, both, must go hand in hand.

Now coming to the third aspect of art, that aspect is symbolical art. Symbolism has not come from the human intellect, for it is born of intuition. The finer the soul, the better equipped in some way or other in the symbolical idea. A fine soul always dreams symbolical dreams, and when the soul becomes finer still it interprets the dream to itself, understanding the meaning of that symbolism. The artist who produces in his art a symbolical idea has learned it from what he has seen in nature and has interpreted that in his art. Certainly it is inspiration. The finer the artist is, the finer his symbolical way of producing.

In every work of art one can observe three things: its surface, its length and width, and its depth. That I do not say in the ordinary sense of the words. The surface means what the picture is, the length and width is the story that it tells and the depth is the meaning that it reveals. Therefore for the best way of appreciating and studying the works of an artist, these three faculties must be developed. Art is a very vast subject. A series of lectures is not sufficient for this subject.