2013 – oil on canvas, 200×150 cm / 79×59 in
“The call of Death is a call of Love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation”.Hermann Hesse
The human skull has been used in the arts since the times of Pompeii as “Memento Moris”, “Vanitas” and many others. I have so far abstained from making use of this overused symbol, but I feel that no artist can completely ignore its symbolism which speaks to each of us. In my lively presentation of the skull I stick to the interpretation of ancient societies for whom the skull represented “life”, the honoring of humanity in the flesh and the embodiment of consciousness: the symbol of death becomes the symbol of beauty and love.
For AMMA, a 2013 Chromys Laureate, “Love is the only medicine that can heal the wounds of this world. In this universe, it is love that binds everything together. Love is the very foundation, beauty and fulfilment in life. There are three expressions of love that awaken our power within: love for oneself, love for God, and love for the entire creation. Love is the most ancient and most modern guiding light. It is only love that can raise the human mind from its lowest state to the infinite realm of the Self; it is the only language all creation can understand: the universal language of the heart”.
When AMMA gives “Darshan” by embracing her children she is giving love. It cannot be a coincidence that Pope Francis used the same gesture in his encounters with the masses during his visit to Rio de Janeiro. His encouragements to the young sound familiar to Amma’s teachings: “Help the people in need who have fallen on hard times and help them to rise again”. André Malraux predicted that “the third millennium will be spiritual or there will be no third millennium”. Our spiritual leaders give us hope that it will be.
But words are not enough. They have to be followed by deeds. Also here Amma gives us a shining example with her humanitarian initiatives, such as the Amrita Universities, with more than 100,000 students; Green Friends, the environmental branch of Embracing the World; Gift of Food, feeding more than 10 million people every year throughout India; Free Health Care for millions; Education for Everyone, with 100,000 scholarships for children from poor communities; Building Homes for hundreds of thousands, and more.
Each of us can follow the example of Amma and Pope Francis, even on a very small scale. As an artist I’d like to suggest one way of doing good, close to my heart: Every real artist attempts to show us beauty in life, but many cannot make a living from this vocation. By acquiring one of their works, even at a modest price, you will give great encouragement and help to create the next piece of beauty. None of us can take any possessions with us when we leave this world. But we will have to ask ourselves “What have I achieved during my stay, have I accomplished my mission, have I given enough love”? If you have a positive answer to this question, you will sympathize with the words of Hermann Hesse, that “the call of Death is a call of Love”.
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