Over the past several months, I’ve been creating a new series of paintings that have emerged by letting go of expectations and tuning in to a deep space of tenderness.
This tenderness has guided my hand and heart to make these paintings. The past couple of years has been the most challenging for me physically, emotionally and spiritually. My heart was torn wide open and I now find myself alone guided by an inner compass so to speak.
My husband passed away earlier this year. He was a poet and an incredible human being; a gifted, joyous companion, my best friend. He studied and shared a lot of Chinese Poetry with me. This line, from a poem titled, Thoughts of You Unending by Li Po and translated by David Hinton would ebb and flow in my mind for days and months after his death:
empty. But you’re lovely as a blossom born of cloud.
The repetition of this line mixed with memories of profound love has somehow penetrated into the paintings I have created over the past several months.
I will now share a couple more lines toward the end of the poem to somewhat mimic how my mind would recall and feel a sense of connectedness to Li Po and his words of sheer camaraderie all the while feeling totally and completely alone. The language sparse yet encapsulating the unreachable vast human experience of grief and sorrow.
for a spirit in sad flight, the road over hard passses sheer distance, I’ll never reach you, even in dreams.
Over the last couple of months, I was able to generate comfort while grieving through the act of creating. In general and also with this body of work, I never begin with an idea. I start with a blank canvas, making marks and filling in thin areas of color. I open to the process. It is after creating several paintings that they begin to mirror back messages of meaning.
The more I painted and the more I let go and let the process take over, I began to see that these are manifestations of the prayers I have for him. Prayers his friends have for him. Prayers for his travels in the afterlife. The more I painted and the more I prayed, I realized they were also his wishes for me.
I look forward to continuing this body of work as I journey into the grant period. I am so honored to have been chosen as one of 2023 Emerging Artist Grantees through Creative Pinellas.
Li Po (701-762) Thoughts of You Unending, Classical Chinese Poetry, An Anthology copyright 2008 David Hinton. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York
To view this current body of work go to http://kimberlyengel.com