Today I want to share with you some background information about my 3rd NFT art drop on SuperRare.
Arcadia is a digital painting (120x85cm) and an animation. It is a modern interpretation of Nicholas Poussin’s painting „The Arcadian Shepherds“ from 1637/1638, the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style.
„Arcadia“ is a poetic shaped place – a vision of harmony with nature, related to the concepts of „Paradise“ or „Utopia“. The original painting pictures a thombstone, located in paradise.The inscript says „Et In Arcadia Ego“. While it remains a bit mysterious, it was often interpreted as „even in paradise, there is death“.
During the pandemic in 2020, I was stranded in paradise. Here I was confronted with these eternal themes in culture – the theme of the frailty of earthly existence and the inevitability: Even in paradise, there is death.
My interpretation actually is a visual record of a conversation that that I had with a friend of mine. It began with a conversation about this very painting. And how it fits our situation. Our respective lasted all over 2020. It started with the unavoidable, went further and took many turns.
Eventually it led us to the eternal questions of how can we live a good life in virtue, while we all face the unavoidable? How can we live in balance with nature? How can we meet our spiritual desires? What is paradise? What are our values? What are our chances these days? What are the possible risks? All in full awareness of the unavoidable and the blissful joy in overcoming.
A very humbling, but also profoundly deliberating experience.
You bet, my friend me, we had a lot to talk. But we also created a playlist together.
To listen, open spotify on your mobile device, search and scan the barcode on the right. Or, click here.
In the original painting, the inhabitants of Arcadia bear an obvious connection to the figure of the noble savage, both being regarded as living close to nature, uncorrupted by civilization. I exchanged the setting Arcadia (a region in Greek) against something like my own home mountains which are something like my „happy place“ and the shepherds against Jesus, Sokrates, Confucius and Toni Morrison. The tomb stone reads „Et In Arcadia Ego“. All other details have symbolic meaning.
Finally, this is the original painting. So beautiful. Poussin’s most mysterious painting:
The digital version + a physical video print!
5k HD Video: 5.000×3 .. px . Due to size restrictions you only see the compressed version on SuperRare. The winner will be send the high definition version, so you can screen lossless it in huge dimensions.
Video Print: From Infinite Objects.
Music: Composed by Claudie Linke.
The digital version + a physical print!
The digital painting: 5000×3 px.
The print: 120x85cm. Giclée print on fine art paper.
In my process, reading is quite often the biggest inspiration. I found these thoughts from some great thinkers really interesting. Sometimes I take notes. Too valuable to just keep that for myself. You might wonder, why I picked Socrates, Confucius, Jesus and Toni Morrison?
Hence, maybe it lifts you up, or it inspires you as well:
Albert Kitzler. Several easy-to-read books about the ancient philosophy of Socrates and Pythagoras:
I found it super interesting to read about Socrates and Pythagoras, especially because they had some very similiar ideas to what I so long thought are centered in eastern religions, philosophies, yoga and meditation. However, even the old classic philosophers have been proposing the same already:
„An unexamined life is not worth living“. it is important to know your own needs (listen to your feelings).
The 3 ingredients for a happy life are inner peace, serenity and frugality.
The path to wisdom never stops. Always leave time for introspection in life.
Happiness means living balanced. For the ancient philosophers, work-life balance was called „peace of mind“ or also something like a „calm mind“.
Free yourself from internal and external constraints in order to be able to live independently (social norms, ideals of beauty, compulsion for a career, etc.).
„Die Chinesen: Psychogramm einer Weltmacht“. Stefan Barong & Guangyan Yin-Baron. (Sorry, I think this book is only available in german so far).
The Chinese live in two separate worlds: the family is everything, here you are honest, everyone looks out for each other. But in the outside world the law of strength and power rules. For this reason, chinese people are sometimes not so much interested in foreign people.
2 great thinkers determine the Chinese mind set:
Confucius (551-479 BC)
The aim of his teaching is to enable a life in harmony with other people and with nature. In contrast to the Christian idea, humans are not god-like individuals, but part of a society in which everyone has their place.
Harmony in society arises from the fact that every person cultivates himself. Self-perfection is considered to be the meaning of life. To do this, the Confucians go the middle way, which means they don’t think or act in extreme ways and try to understand the other side in conflicts.
Laotse (571 – 471 BC) // Taoism
Laotse was a hermit and viewed people not only as part of society but also as individuals. To this day he is revered by Chinese people who have their own mind and don’t want to live like everyone else.
Taoism: Basis of Chinese poetry and painting. His maxim is inaction. That means not to act quickly, too much, or unnecessarily, but only to do what is right, good and necessary. This is exactly the principle underlying the Chinese art of war and kung fu.
The Chinese strive for harmony within an existing hierarchy.
The focus of Chinese culture is the community and not the individual as we do in the West.
The family is so important to the Chinese that until around the year 1,000 they didn’t even have words for “I” and “we”. The family name also comes before the personal name in Chinese.
Hardly any private life. Everything happens under the eyes of the family. Therefore one behaves better adjusted, controlled and inconspicuous. Showing emotions openly, such as outbursts of anger, happy hugs, etc. is considered barbaric.
At school, children learn to show their love for their parents not through hugs, but through good academic performance. Those who are bad at school are screened out.
Inequality is perfectly fine for the Chinese. In the course of history they have learned that “leveling out” does not help their society.
For them, fairness means: equal opportunities and not equal income.
We in the West often strive for self-realization, the Chinese strive for self-perfection in order to live in perfect harmony within the existing hierarchy.
The Chinese think more practically and situationally than we do.
In the west we have been looking for absolute truth in logical analysis since Plato and Aristotle. Example: When a banknote flutters away from us at a red light, we think about breaking the rule. Chinese think differently. For them the truth lies in the current context, they jump right after the banknote. If a car comes, it will swerve.
Western reason is theoretical, Chinese more practical.
We in the west are looking for the only truth. The Chinese know a lot, depending on the situation. Therefore, laws are more like advice to them.
The Chinese are used to seeing opposites as a unit: Good and bad are facets of the same thing. Yin and yang.
The people in China are more relaxed about their fate and are more adaptable.
Doctrine of the Middle According to Confucius. You avoid extremes. They are looking for compromises. Ambivalences and grey areas are not a problem. A ruse is not reprehensible, but an expression of prudence.
Language and writing often determine how one thinks, feels, acts, etc. We have 28 letters, Mandarin has 10,000 characters.
Mandarin is a figurative language (concepts are composed of images),
The word „Landscape“ consists, for example, of „mountain“ and „water“.
The concept „Bipolarity“, e.g combines „enlightenment“ and „angry dog“.
The Chinese lead a double life: within the family it is about harmony, adaptation and respect.
In public, the law of „survival of the fittest“ applies. It is simply considered pointless to be considerate of strangers.
Just like the truth, morality in China is situational.
Enormous economic boom: in 1980 the Chinese earned an average of $200 USD. In 2020 it will be $8,000.
The Chinese don’t long for human rights and democracy. However, “human rights” were developed by the Europeans.
Prosperity and stability are more important to the Chinese.
The Chinese trust their own government more than Germans.
China poses no foreign policy threat at all. Busy enough with internal affairs: managing economic and scientific progress, historically rather peace-loving. The Chinese have little sense of political mission.
See themselves more as global citizens than Chinese.
Their form of government (democracy) is completely irrelevant to them.
China is investing heavily in international infrastructure that can only function profitably in peace
Conclusion of the author: We should see the country’s rise as an opportunity, not a threat.
Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye
As this is a fiction book, I do not want to tell you the story line. For me, as white woman, growing up in the western world, this book is a revelation because it allows you insights into what it means to be black. It tells the story of Pecola, an African-American girl & gives insights on how it is and what it means to grow up as a “black” girl in the years following the Great Depression. Very humbling and very much eye-opening. A very interesting read if you want to learn about what it means to be black and about racism in the United States in particular.
Jesus & The Bible 😉
Well, no introduction needed, I guess. I am not yet the biggest fan of the church as an institution, also I never read the whole book. However, the 10 commandments versus the 7 deadly sins are probably some evergreens ;), deeply rooted into our culture. And so often forgotten, at the same time. My painting references a lot of symbols and details in that direction.