The things that stop us in our tracks
Tunes for a Monday Morning

The moment of surprise

Evolution 3 by Rune Guneriussen

"There is a point beyond which training and practice cannot take you. Zeami, the 14th century Noh drama playwright and director who was also a Zen priest, spoke of this moment as 'surprise.' This is the surprise of discovering oneself needing no self, one with the work, moving in disciplined ease and grace. One knows what it is to be a spinning ball of clay, a curl of pure while wood off the edge of a chisel.... At this point one can be free, with the work and from the work." - Gary Snyder

Capacity to Breed and Recover by Rune Guneriussen

"I believe it was John Cage who once told me, 'When you start working, everybody is in your studio -- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas -- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you're lucky, even you leave.'"  - Philip Guston

Revisit the Revolution by Rune Guneriussen

"When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.”- Madeleine L'Engle

A Grid of Physical Entities by Rune Guneriussen

“It is not your business to determine how good [your work] is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”  - Martha Graham

Evolution 1 by Rune Guneriussen

"I like to use the word "isumatug.' It’s of eastern Arctic Eskimo dialect and refers to the storyteller, meaning ‘the person who creates the atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself.’ I think that’s the writer’s job. It’s not to be brilliant, or to be the person who always knows, but…to be the one who recognizes the patterns that remind us of our obligations and our dreams.” - Barry Lopez

A Natural Selection by Rune Guneriussen

The stunning light sculptures here are by the Norwegian installation artist Rune Guneriussen, who finds magic and inspiration in his native landscape.

"As an artist," he says, "I believe strongly that art itself should be questioning and bewildering as opposed to patronising and restricting. As opposed to the current fashion I do not want to dictate a way to the understanding of my art, but rather indicate a path to understanding a story."


if art is "questioning and bewildering" you lose the vast majority of your audience. Can't art simply be beautiful? Can't art simply present a gathering of shapes, colour and movement that just pleases the eye, that lifts the spirits without always having to be an intellectual, angst-ridden exercise of the deepest recesses of the mind?

It seems to me that most modern artists have lost all sense of the aesthetic; they're forever banging on about "THE SHOCK OF THE NEW!!!!" What about the 'shock of the beautiful'? now that really would be a shock.

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty". Shouldn't every artist have that tattooed on the inside of their eyelids?

I think Guneriussen would agree with you. Making allowances for the fact that English is not his first language (and based on interviews with him that I've read), I believe what he's trying to say here is that he wants his art to be mysterious, to evoke a sense of wonder, to allow viewers to create their own stories about it, rather than pinning down the meaning of each piece with art jargon. If viewers look at his beautiful, magical light installations and have questions about what they "mean," he doesn't want to answer those questions, he wants the questions themselves to lead viewers into a story of their own making. And I think that's a lovely idea.

To me, coming across a Guneriussen piece in the landscape would indeed be the "shock of the beautiful."

While my take on Guneriussen and his art is different than yours, I do agree with you about modern art in general. There are some wonderful artists working today, but on the whole what gets celebrated by the art establishment (the Turner Prize and such) fills me with despair. I often think of think of this from Shirley Hazzard in her book Transit of Venus:

"Beauty is the forbidden word of our age, as sex was to the Victorians."

Yes! Yes! Yes! How beautiful those moments are when we remember our deepest connection, when we are just the watcher of creativity as it flows through us and have no worries, hope or expectations. An experience that is full of subtle joy and vast space. Why do we ever leave it?

Thank you Terri, so beautiful.

Cathy x

I do so agree with what you say about the Turner Prize and the modern art establishment, and what a wonderful quote from Shirley Hazzard. Sums it all up really

Oh my goodness. These photos are the most gorgeous and wonderful pieces of art I've seen in a long while. I couldn't even read the text at first.

Isumatug! I'm mentally jumping up and down with excitement! Maybe there's no link at all...but as soon as I read it I thought 'Urscumug'! A word that has pestered me for more than 20 years, since I first read Robert Holdstock's marvelous "Mythago Wood" and felt sure the 'Urscumug' was based on a real idea, a real word somewhere, somehow! I'd finally come to the conclusion that it was just that the amazing quality of Holdstock's writing made everything he wrote sound as if it had truly come from aeons ago. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but even the description of the Isumatug sounds perfect. I don't suppose it matters either way, but it's rather magical to find a link that works for me after 22 years of wondering. It makes his work seem even more wonderful!

Oh! This art took my breath away. Will O' the Wisps mixed with modern technology. I love it!!

These lamps... they're filling my soul.

Really beautiful!

Have you seen this project. I haven't seen them live yet, but they'll be up for two years.

Oh Terri, All these quotations are how I live; those stories and their music is deep in us, as if we have
a memory going back to the beginning of the earth and all we cannot absorb if we just 'think.' And I
do not know if what I write is good or bad, mediocre and right. I am just the messenger using all the
skill I can.

That should be "or right..." I was typing too quickly.

I've previously felt like the word "storyteller" best explains what I try to do and who I am in the world. This might need to be replaced with "isumatug." "Bard" is another one, but I don't feel brave enough to call myself that (yet?).

I think art is anything that makes your mind sit up and pay attention. It is what snaps us out of our everyday stupors and tells us that there is wonder in the world and if we truley want to live, we have to pay attention.
I think the art above is stunning.

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