My Life with the Lotus | a comment by T. Butzlaff

”If you want to know whether a painting is good or not, you’ll have to live with it“, I remember my professor telling us when I studied art well over 25 years ago. And he went on: “Just hang a new painting where you’re bound to see it a lot. Then you’ll be looking at it in all sorts of life situations, attentively or just passing by, at different times of day and in all sorts of moods. A good painting never gets boring. One always likes glancing at it, and so the relationship deepens.“

 Nirman Cain: „Coming out of water“

 When some years ago, my wife and I bought the sculpture by Nirman Cain: ”Coming out of water“,  I had completely forgotten what my professor had said. We had just liked the look of the piece, although I couldn’t have given a reason. In our new home the sculpture found its place in the meditation room; and in this appropriate setting it could at last blossom.

I looked at it at different times of day and in varying light situations. Whether in bright sunshine or by simple candle-light, the lotus flower changed continuously. And yet something remained the same.

What did the sculpture actually want to express? The perfectly straight lines shooting up high decidedly contradict the round, delicate shapes of the petals.

Slowly, while reading a particular book or listening to some music, the answer dawned on me, just by way of association. Shreds of a conversation I had with Nirman came back to me. Had he not told me that the rising lines were inspired by the sun‘s rays, falling through forest trees? Suddenly, the white marble sclupture expressed something beyond itself. The contrasts were merging: the rising light rays led to the petals’ opening up… A rocket seemed to explode. Together, the very masculine and the very feminine shapes gave way to a third dimension: The stone successfully demonstrates not only the growth and unfolding of a plant, but, beyond that, also the intrinsically human striving for something higher.

However, hidden within this dynamic interplay, there was some stillness in the stone, something that always remains the same..

 Really, my professor had been right! You have to live with a work of art in order to actually understand its quality.