With another year almost over and the next already filling up with plans, we are inevitably drawn to the idea of self-improvement and the chance to turn over a new leaf. Hay Hill Gallery’s December show contrasts the chaos and materialism of the festive season with The Heart of the Matter– a collection of meditative paintings by artist Galyna Moskvitina. As we sink under our accumulating things, the simplicity and stillness of her work questions what it is that we really long for- the longing described by T. S. Eliot as a need for ‘further union, a deep communion’.
Anthony de Mello wrote that we ‘are born asleep. Live asleep and die asleep… We never wake up. That is what spirituality is about: waking up.’ Like sleepwalkers, we are going through our daily rituals, never quite catching up, hanging on by a thread, suffering the anxious feelings of being. Unsure of ourselves and our surroundings, we build up layers to protect ourselves but the cotton-wool zone quickly breeds apathy and a disconnection with the present moment. The lights are on but no one’s home.
Drawing patterns, forming habitual ritual, automatically reacting- we fall into autopilot, repeating the same refrain like a scratched record. The computer is a false window to the world as we pinball between Facebook and Twitter and email. Google and Wikipedia are the go-to brains of choice; ebay and Starbucks consume our wages; television and pub are the blinkered respite. In the attempt to claw back some semblance of control, great efforts are made to maintain a Dry January, the No-Carbs-Before-Marbs bikini diet, and Sober October- before it all implodes at the Christmas party, adding insult to injury with New Year’s Eve just a week later. No wonder you’re exhausted- and beginning to wonder if you’ve completely missed the point of it all.
Recent studies have found that alongside the logical and emotional capacities of a human brain, exists an area solely dedicated to spiritual experience. At first, Moskvitina’s philosophy can seem outdated to our fast paced western culture; but the search for meaning, value and purpose is universally relevant- and awareness of that fact is vital to our mental health. In an environment where emphasis is placed on ‘higher’ thinking, (such as meditation or prayer) there are reduced rates of depression and a greater ability to process negative circumstances. For the sake of the whole being, spirituality should not be overlooked but must be considered an essential part of life.
The paintings in themselves are mouthpieces for one artist’s spiritual journey; yet these shimmering canvases are also designed to resonate with the individual. Dependent on different shades of light from morning until evening, each work has potential to communicate something unique to the spectator. Having such an encounter in a London gallery may seem strange, but by resolving to stop, stand still for once and really notice, you make space to come up for air. You will finally respond- wide awake.
Words by E. S. Jones