A symphony orchestra, a jazz trio, a choir, a handpan solo, a chamber music concert; a classical or modern sculpture, an installation in a public space or in nature, land art, architecture, an ephemeral collective creation of beach art, a street happening ; a painting in a museum or gallery, a mandala, a fresco in a church or chapel, a trompe-l'oeil painting on a building façade, a photo blog on the web, an urban tag, a conceptual art proposal; a ballet, a hip-hop demo, a mime show, street art, a theatre play, a fashion show, a stage improvisation, literature or poetry competition; etc. Hundreds of art forms, artistic expressions; millions of artists around the world: a multi-coloured tapestry whose general pattern is confused, uncertain; a kaleidoscope in continuous rotation. All these mixed voices do not sing in the same register; several chords blur each other; trends and genres sometimes meet, complement or confront each other, rarely understand each other. Diversity is rich, impressive, enchanting; unity is lacking.
Art expresses joy; it can also bring joy. Art expresses suffering; it also relieves it sometimes. It accompanies hateful violence as much as peaceful meditation; it is religious, politicized or bestial. Art proceeds from the human being, it is a typical feature of him; it manifests and makes perceptible the aspirations and limits of the human being, describes their contours by arranging and rearranging them, by interpreting them. But the image of a magnificent sunset painted on the wall of a jail does not free the prisoner.
It is not a question of escaping all culture, all refinement; these things are useful and necessary to a certain extent. Beyond this point of equilibrium, different for each of us according to his or her degree of education and social background, they become cumbersome burdens, heavy shells, obstacles to the free breathing of the Spirit-within-us. Over-culture, whether artistic, scientific, political, or intellectual, breaks the natural balance between spirit and matter; the hypertrophy of the person, which is only a means in itself, renders him unfit to serve the goal of its existence: the impulse towards the Spirit-In-Self. An arrow that is too heavy will come, as soon as it is fired, to be planted in the earth, and will never reach the target.
It is not so much the form of the work itself (visual, tactile or sound) that is important, but above all the state of being of the artist from which it emanates, of which it is the expression. The artist's profound state of being, his quality of being, this inaudible cry from the heart, is inevitably transmitted to the form created, to the work linked to it, and resonates in it and through it. The choice of sounds, rhythm, materials, words, gestures, proportions, colours, flows naturally, spontaneously, from this state of being. This state of being is also inevitably transmitted to the spectator or listener who connect with it, who "absorb" it, and resonates within them. Art is nothing else than this common resonance whose form, the work itself, is only the vector, the medium, the pretext.
The artistic form used is therefore not the art itself, but its vehicle, just as a musical instrument is not the music itself, but only the medium that allows it to spread through the work of the musician. In the same way, there are billions of life forms on our planet. They can all be observed, studied, analysed, dissected, and categorized. But life itself, the life that animates them, escapes all investigation. We will never put life under a microscope; we will never observe it through the viewfinder of a telescope. The very nature of life itself remains a complete mystery. However, it is very present, perceptible in all the forms so varied that it animates.
The perceptible form is not the essence; only a manifestation of the essence. But what is art itself, beyond art forms? An impulse towards Beauty, towards Truth, towards the "greater-than-self"? A scream of rage or pain? Or the compulsive reproduction of learned cultural patterns, for the sole purpose of gaining recognition, fame, fortune, or simply to make a living out of it? To each artist to answer, no doubt by his works, but even more by his state of being.
The state of being is the result of a daily art of living: thinking, feeling, breathing, walking... The art of living, the root and source of all the "arts", is not a set of elegant habits and practices, an aesthetic research aiming to surround oneself with beautiful objects and beautiful people. It is not a culture of the self, a narcissistic refinement, nor is it about becoming a beautiful person, a beautiful piece of art, an attractive mask exposed to admiring glances. In Latin, persona means mask; in marketing terms, a persona is a stereotypical fictitious individual with socio-psychological attributes determined by the social group to which he or she belongs.
The true art of living is the ability to remain truly alive, i.e. authentic, simple, sincere with oneself and with others, without premeditated masks. It means distancing oneself from clichés, postures, expectations, fashions and superficial relational registers. It is to remain in the doorway of the "narrow gate", in this privileged space of opening, of observing signs, of listening attentively and interiorly silent to what must happen in us, through us, by us and, very often, in spite of us.
A truly living artist (and we are all called to this becoming) places himself and remains in Life itself as a universal stream of energy. This has nothing to do with the hodgepodge of instruments, tools, accessories, teachings and artistic techniques, traditional or modern, available in profusion on every continent. The human being, in the best of cases, is only an attentive, alert, conscious performer. Only Life creates; the human being knows only how to reproduce, imitate, multiply; and very often, only how to reproduce himself, imitate himself, multiply himself. "It is the work to be accomplished that has authority over the artist, and not the artist authority over the work" (Étienne Souriau). Life is universal in essence, eternal; the human being is contingent by nature, transient. The role of the true artist, i.e. you and me, is to join and unify the universal and the contingent, the eternal and the transient, the universal Life and the human being.
The present moment is the root of matter itself, the substance of which Life is made up. He or she who aspires to make his or her own life a work of art must remain in the most permanent contact possible with the present, omnipresent moment, the raw and unique material of his or her masterpiece. The present moment is an ever-renewed question. And yesterday's, or even the previous minute's answer to this vital, living question can never be appropriate. The right answer to Life, too, must be renewed from moment to moment. The hand must inevitably let go of what it grasps in order to open itself.
How can such an artist (you and me, then) rise to the Supreme Art? That is to say, how can he learn to manifest in his daily life, interior as well as exterior, something other than cultural clichés, programmed emotions or debatable concepts?
How can he become an intermediary, a junction point between Spirit and matter, between Divinity and humanity? By emptying himself of everything, and first of all of himself; of his artistic, religious or scientific culture, of his doubts, ambitions, and plans, of his knowledge and so well trained know-how’s.
This supreme Art is not learned in art schools or academies, through the tireless repetition of gestures taught. Standards of beauty are changing, ephemeral values that mark civilizations, which are also ephemeral. The supreme Art consists in progressively extricating oneself, without forcing but with determination, from all normative influence, from all spatio-temporal, socio-cultural conditioning, in order to open up, to make room in oneself, and to reveal what does not belong to the domain of the senses, of the forms, of the contingencies; what does not vary in the course of millennia; what belongs to our deep, essential humanity, to our immaculate, non-relative, non-analysable, non-reproducible, inexpressible divine dimension. To reach this omnipresent target and to remain there is to be a true Artist.
The different forms of artistic expression, seen from this central and unconditioned point of our being, are only peripheral agitation. We seek in them a beauty, a truth, a transcendence that only silence and emptiness can manifest. Inner emptiness and silence sculpt our consciousness by ridding it of the superfluous.
Supreme Art does not stand above all the arts, all artistic disciplines; it represents neither the crowning achievement nor the synthesis of all cultural expressions. Supreme Art is anything but a mental-emotional manifestation. It is the expression of Universal Life through a human being who has become aware of its omnipresence, open to its messages, docile to its influences. Supreme Art is what happens when Life fills life; when thoughts, words and deeds align themselves on this vertical axis which joins transcendence and immanence, eternity and daily life. The person, the "artist" himself, has become the instrument, the tool, and also the work.
His acts, all his behaviour, have become divine manifestations that are inscribed through him in the matter. The Spirit is the creator; and the human being, his instrument, his channel, his servant. The supreme Art is then attained, concretely experienced: art and its well-known forms vanish into His peaceful light.
The supreme Art is to listen to the breath of the Universal Spirit delivering its messages in the encounter of each moment, of each situation.
It is to listen to the serene and regular beating of the Soul of the world resounding in our own heart.
It is contemplating with wonder their union, which gives birth to a new consciousness, a new man, a new woman, a new matter deeply and powerfully magical in its simplicity.
Supreme Art is the reflection of the Spirit in a purified soul.