Rilke at Chiblow


Best in Show, 2005 Society of Canadian Artists Annual Juried Show

The Words of the Lord to John on Patmos (excerpt)

And you shall write without looking down:
for that too is why you're here: for writing:
Place your left hand on the stone's left
and your right one on it's right: so I can use them both.

And now I'll utterly unfold.

For millions of years I must restrain myself
since worlds take such time evolving,
must pierce their coldness with my ardor
bit by bit, instead of growing fire
in all of them, one giant flame.
And so I'm never wholly in creation:
when humans have just started to conjecture me,
I've long been forgotten by the stone.

This painting is to be read from bottom to top, as if it is emerging from water. That life began in the depths and slowly moved its way up to the surface and out into the air. That the evolutionary trajectory of the world has now produced us, the being that can look back over this process, decipher it, and wonder. That the creation of art, petroglyphs, poetry, painting etc. is an enterprise that can only be undertaken by those aware of time.

The German mystic poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these words in the early part of the 20th century. Chiblow Lake, with its petroglyphs, is situated a few miles in from the North Shore of Lake Huron.

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