On the occasion of the festive opening of ´Guiding Vision´and ´Healing Room´- on April 2, 2004

Andrea Überbacher

Art promoter




Elisabeth Sula’s concept: "GUIDING VISION"

Laotse, the great Chinese sage who lived around 600 B. C., wrote down his profound findings on the cosmic meaning and on human life upon request of a customs officer when - nearing the end of his life - he left his home country. This book was later on called Tao te king, a title consisting of three Chinese letters that Richard Wilhelm translated as "The book (king) of the way (tao) and the virtue (te)".

The Tao te king opens up a perception of the world that is independent of time and space and leads directly to the fundamental reason of all living and all being. Without any knowledge of the correlations of the universal laws and principles we are unable to understand ourselves and to solve the problems we created ourselves. In 81 briefly and concisely put sayings, the Tao te king presents the cosmic-human order, from which man can derive universal ideals of life. As acting in a reasonable way is based on the validity of the fundaments of thought, great motivations for effective action can be derived from Laotse’s spiritual approach to wisdom. He who heeds this, will find inner strength and fortitude.

My painting "GUIDING  VISION" refers to an excerpt of the
Tao te king:

Therefore the sage is sharp but not cutting,
Pointed but not piercing,
Straightforward but not unrestrained,
Brilliant but not blinding.

The universality of this view that has seen many a millennia is the spiritual mentor of my acrylic painting, which conveys associations of the ideas of integrity, exemplarity, diligence, support, protection, security, light and warmth in an abstract, visual picture language.



The lighter layers of acrylic colour are applied in multiple layers translucently over a dark foundation – this produces a certain depth of the painting and a complex opulence in colours. Warm shades in mainly red, orange and yellow colours are raining across the surface of the painting – high above and down below, heaven and earth, the spiritual and the profane, forming a symbolic link. Like a field of protective coat, cascades of repetitive ornaments forming a bow around a bright inner field – the being. The word “guidance” means leadership, direction, instruction, example, model, signpost, guiding rail, course guidance, orientation (a good guide is an adviser, a role model, guideline, signpost, leadership). Vision means seeing, visual faculty, ideal, apparition, sight, imaginativeness, imagination, providence, farsightedness, beauty in abundance.

The painting titled "GUIDING VISION" aims at serving as a visual colour- and lightful anchor, symbolically conveying the meaning of being connected to higher ideals and values. Apart from acquiring knowledge and skills, education also always means cultivation of the heart. The painting "GUIDING VISION” invites the beholder to look into his personal visions of life. What is it that guides and leads me in my life; which rope of guidance continuously threads through my life providing direction and thus giving me strength and power.


Review by Andrea Überbacher (March 2004):


"GUIDING  VISION  AND  HEALING  ROOM"


In 2003, Elisabeth Sula was commissioned with creating a painting for the skylight-flooded foyer of the newly built Education Centre. The owner of the building wanted a painting conveying the house’s underlying guiding principles such as integrity, exemplary conduct, diligence, support, protection, security and warmth – ideas which Elisabeth Sula brought to life in her very special personal way.

 


In addition to her studies of painting at the
Academy of Applied Arts (class of Professor Oswald Oberhuber), Elisabeth Sula also studied philosophy and has taken a profound interest in studying the traditional ways of thinking and acting that are typical of the Far East and the West.

She embarked on study trips to numerous countries, among others repeatedly and over several months to India, a country with a culture and mentality that deeply influenced her life, her art and her perception. From the very beginning of her artistic life she dedicated her work to the quest for “truth”, for the meaning and “essence” of being per se. Moreover, from the very start, the colours and symbols prevailing in the various culture groups were of vital significance to her. To me, her paintings are thoughts and constructs of ideas, and I cordially invite you as the beholders to open up and indulge in the process of perception and the journey to your innermost self and to attempt to join the artist on her search for the truly important heart of matters – for the true meaning of life.

 


For her monumental assignment here in Traiskirchen the artist referred to a book that is most important to her: the Tao te king – the book (king) of the way (tao) and the virtue (te)“, by the great Chinese philosopher and sage Laotse. The Tao te king dates back to the year 600 B.C., it was written down upon request of a man in uniform, a customs officer shortly before the philosopher’s death. The book of the way and the virtue opened up a view of the world that holds true up to this day. A view that is independent of time and space and leads directly to the fundamental reason of all living and all being. In 81 briefly and concisely put sayings, the Tao te king presents the correlations of the cosmic-human order and principles, from which man can derive universal ideals of life. With its wise sayings and instructions this book bilds a bridge between weakness and strength, between tough and tender, high above and down below, inside and outside, heaven and earth. The tao stands for the meaning, the principles of life. He who heeds this order will find inner strength.

 

In her concept, Elisabeth Sula refers to a segment of the 58th saying taken from the Tao te king which describes the sage in the following way:



Therefore the sage is sharp but not cutting,
Pointed but not piercing,
Straightforward but not unrestrained,
Brilliant but not blinding.


She titled the painting (dimensions: 6.5m x 2.65m) "GUIDING  VISION" , a vision that may serve as a signpost and guidance, as a yardstick that protects and guides, a “guided introspection”.

Cascades of repetitive ornaments flowing around a bright inner field – the being. She describes “Guiding Vision” as a colour- and lightful anchor, symbolically conveying the meaning of being committed to higher ideals and values. It connects heaven and earth, high above and down below, the spiritual and the profane.



The painting’s predominant colours are yellow and red, about which Goethe wrote in his book “Theory of Colours” around 1800:

 

Yellow - is the colour nearest the light ... it is related to gold ... it has a gay, jolly, gently stimulating quality... Yellow is considered warming ... it pleases the eye, it widens the heart, it cheers the soul, and warmth seems to directly emanate on us.
Red – this colour conveys an impression both of gravity and grandeur, of charm and grace ... and thus red was also referred to as crimson due to the great grandeur it exudes ... any surrounding of this colour is grave and grand ... it sheds a hideous light on any well lit landscape. Thus is the shade of colour that will be spread upon heaven and earth on judgment day.“



For Elisabeth Sula “Guiding Vision” is to strengthen the connection between the profane and spiritual energy. To her, red represents the profane, the soil, blood; yellow stands for the spiritual energy. In some other context, Goethe says, “Red embodies SEARCHING and LONGING, yellow is FINDING and RECOGNISING.” According to the artist, the painting also contains elements from number symbolism.


Description of the painting:

-          3 yellow, cascading vertical tracks of light

-          10 brushstrokes communicating between yellow and red

furthermore, stylised protective symbols from Buddhist iconography, running like a ribbon from top to bottom or from bottom to top, more precisely speaking:

-          14 or rather 2 x 7 heart-shaped symbols of the tripartite leaf of the Bodhi tee (the Bodhi belongs to the family of fig trees, underneath which Buddha was enlightened as legend has it, with Bhodi standing for wisdom)

-          11 sun motifs

 

 

The artist gives the following description of the symbolism of numbers: the wheel of fate (10) may be supported by strength and joie de vivre (11) in justice and harmonious balance of the energies (14) of body, mind and soul (3).

 

Due to its colours, forms and symbols, the monumental painting exudes an incredible radiance and produces a strong effect. Actually, all of her paintings have a similar effect. In the building, a total of almost 50 paintings created during the past 5 years is on display. Elisabeth Sula mainly creates cycles of paintings, developing and applying a special technique for each of them. She predominantly starts out with a dark foundation, representing a deep, dark basis of being upon which she applies one layer of colour after the other, thus achieving the intended spatial depth.

With her paintings Elisabeth Sula wants to provoke an introspection, as she puts it. She is a passionate painter. To her, painting means passion, an energetic flow, and streaming vitality. She wants to touch and make people “touchable”, she wants to create healing rooms we can enter, and where we may get to know better the true nature of our being. Her cascades of colours are like “showers” of energy, colour or light where we can go to activate our being or becoming whole.


To me, her paintings are like some sort of two-dimensional medidation rooms. Looking into these rooms is like gaining new perspectives that we can open up to – we can plunge into them like into some kind of process, into a bath filling us with soft, ambrosial, pleasantly warm sensations – inside and outside – spiritually and physically – to relax, to stock up on new strength, or like a soft cloth we can wrap ourselves in and which protects us from the cold and any adverseness. A comforting room with all sensual qualities that can be associated in this context – a subtle scent, a soft touch and warmth, energy that can be felt, the melodies of the vibes and tones of colour. The paintings convey vibrations that surely will be clearly felt by some beholders.

 

 

"HEALING ROOM" is the title of the artist’s most recent set of work, which she created here in Traiskirchen during the past few months while working on “GUIDING VISION”and which yet again show a completely new development. She uses mainly shades of green and blue which immediately let us think of nature and water. They are grouped into areas of colour, patterns or - as in the cycle on the first floor – into rotating, shining semi-circles. The paintings of this cycle partly induce associations of patterns of cloth or carpets, an effect that is mainly achieved by the uppermost layer – of the ornamental lines arranged in rectangles or squares with floral motifs. The symbols used are once more the Bodhi tree, but also roses, twines and other bordures. Like windows, these energy rooms allow us to look into other spiritual landscapes, this time maybe blossoming inner gardens or (submerged) water worlds. The richly ornamented Nomad carpets, spread out on desert soil and serving the Nomads as a green lawn and blossoming garden on their rambling. They symbolise the fertile life of nature.

 

The paintings of this cycle are beautiful in the truest and most simple sense of the word, which is not self-evident and it does not have to be this way either – for art does not have to comply with the traditional ideals of aesthetics and beauty, and it does not have to be appealing and colourful. Art deals with a wide range of topics, there is “difficult” art, critical art and shocking art. Art does not simply mean mastery, art rather means DOING, art is a creative process. And there is room for any kind of art. Yet even more pleasant, affecting our hearts, warming and healing our souls are these paintings which you can see here at the Education Centre Traiskirchen.

 

Here is how Elisabeth Sula describes and defines the term education:

Apart from acquiring knowledge and skills, education also always means cultivation of the heart.

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