If one of the most “sacred” aims that man can set for himself is to acquire as exact and intense an understanding of himself as possible, it seems desirable that each one, scrutinizing his memories with the greatest possible honesty, examine whether he can discover there some sign permitting him to discern the color for him of the very notion of the sacred.
— Michel Leiris, “The Sacred in Everyday Life” (1938)
Creating a series of paintings for my doctoral thesis, “The Birth of Colors,” took place at a crucial moment in my life when transformations were occurring on multiple levels. Simultaneously, I felt that I was shedding my old skin and undergoing a metamorphosis as an artist. I had to radically change my perspective and the way I expressed emotions that couldn’t flow within the confines of the old creative paradigm. I felt the need to work with the body, harness its dynamics, and tap into the vast potential for expression that is my natural resource and could no longer be suppressed. The images often arose from visions and feelings during states of expanded consciousness that immersed me in a trance while painting. This specific, new way of creating led me towards expressive abstraction, where figuration – if present – serves an important symbolic function.
“The Birth of Colors” serves as a record of the intensity of this journey and its mystical dimension. States referred to as holotropic by Stanislav Grof have accompanied me since childhood. At that time and for most of my life, they were incomprehensible, and I suppressed them. At this stage of personal development, I recognized them as a gift and began consciously exploring them without the use of any psychoactive substances.
The concept of holotropic is derived from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “trepein” (moving towards), meaning “moving towards wholeness.”
Sometimes, to understand something, I have to paint it.
In the series “The Birth of Colors,” this connection is particularly evident to me. There were occasions when it was only after painting an image that I began to understand its meaning and symbolism.
The painting process – a flash, a vision of an image from which a series of paintings emerges, accompanying notes, poems created during the series, and the act of painting itself, which, in this case, took place in a trance – served as a form of art therapy. It involved touching emotions, isolating them, and examining them. Through the profound experience and subsequent integration of these experiences, I could look at them from a perspective and see what had happened. What was painted also became an imprint of a specific event. The scene, emotion, or incident will forever remain. It is a process through which I attempt to understand my life, its meaning, and complexity.
“The Birth of Colors” began on August 8, 2022, when the moon passed through its orbit through the Gate of the Lion – a compilation of stars associated with the appearance of Sirius in the sky – one of the brightest stars. The summer appearance of Sirius was considered a sacred event associated with the beginning of the new year for many ancient civilizations – Egyptians, Mayans, Sumerians, Babylonians, and the Dogon people. In Egypt, it also heralded the coming of the Nile flood, a sign of Mother Earth’s fertility.
For me, this day was also the beginning of something new. It was then that the first color was born – Pink – a color of absolute love vibrating like moving sands, creating a swirling mist around the heart chakra. That night, I also witnessed the birth of the color Yellow in the sky. Just like the faint aurora, I felt a vision of the birth of subsequent colors. I felt that this was a story coming to me.
That was the beginning. At that time, I didn’t yet know what, how significant, and where I had passed through that August gate. On which path I stood and where I had arrived. Now, after several months, I look at this segment of my life panoramically as a story. I see landscapes, the vast nature that is the cosmos, and myself – a microelement of the Universe, so complex in its multidimensional physical, psychological, spiritual structure, relationships, and family roots. I see the organic and physical nature of myself and this nature, the constant self-becoming and simultaneous self-dying. In all of this, there are energies, elements, spirits, human and non-human beings, gods, goddesses, demons, plants, animals, objects, stories, light, and waves – invoking colors and sounds. Infinite richness of forms in constant motion and transformation, in the continuous rotation of celestial bodies. This story is recorded in a series of 11 paintings.
“The Birth of Colors” represents a stage in my life and creativity in which colors gave meanings, helped understand the intricate process of life, described states of consciousness and subconsciousness. Their symbolism and archetypal meanings allowed me to immerse myself deeply in the universal organism and understand that I am its element in an ongoing process of dying and birthing.
I am ready to share this story.
The doctoral exhibition “The Birth of Colors” took place at the Polish Academy of Sciences Earth Museum in Warsaw, located at 20/26 Na Skarpie Street, from September 14 to December 29, 2023.
Dissertation advisors: Professor Dorota Folga Januszewska, Professor Paweł Nowak.
You can find a description of the exhibition, paintings, and museum exhibits complementing the display HERE