The Sun-Spot and the Holy Man, 1949

The holy man has evolved through more elemental forms in its endeavor to be expressed as it really is. The present form very well approximates the nature of the holy man. The holy man represented is a man who through his understanding of creation and of God; and his relationships to God and creation, has learned to communicate directly with God in a passive but most positive way. His know­ledge of reality and his acceptance of himself as one of its aspects; his aware­ness of his insignificance as a man and of his powerful significance as an entity permit him to be casually aware of all things. This is precisely what the holy man does. He is aware of facts and conditions; he is a casual awareness. He is especially aware of the presence of a sun-spot, a profound physical occurrence.
His attitude toward this occurrence is a standard by which his regard for other occurrences may be measured. He is not concerned with it except as it is another aspect of creation. It is hardly worth while to him intrinsically, but since it is a part of creation, it is demanding of his casual interest as are all events and occurrences. However, he is more deeply concerned (and nevertheless casually so) with the means to its production which he understands in terms of knowledge of the absolute God. These means, this knowledge, and this God surround him, are him, and he is a part of them, He has welded God and knowledge, and knowledge of God into one being through his inspired understanding. He sees the sun-spot in psychological colors; not as they seem, but as they are when understood.
He himself is not represented as a contour. He is merely an absence of color upon a background. He is an abstract entity but if he is to be presented at all he must have form. This form suggests man. It must, if it did not, it could only portray holiness. Its head is its center of self awareness and is represented in three dimensions which are spatial. The three dimensional representation is the projection of the self into creation, his headlike spatial lines evolve outward from a solid physical mass that is real on the plane or physical existence, and which is the nerve center that permits this man to cor­respond with the physical universe and relate himself to it. He is connected by long appendages to very structural footlike forms upon which he seems to stand. He is obviously independent of these forms but they seem to give him support, and to have been the organs that gave him origin. These forms are black. They are real, in the physical sense; and they are dead. They are skeletal, metamorphizing from the abstract colorless lines which describe the holy man himself, into dead structural bones which rest upon an insignificant spot in space-time.
These dead organs represent the origin of the man as an individual through the physical world where he received an opportunity to realize himself, and to attain his present holy state. They also represent death, the destruction of physical ties which now are only impedimenta, and which have nearly served their purpose. As the holy man attains more perfect self-realization and more perfect contact with God and creation, these feet will metamorphize further until they also become abstract. At this point death will have overtaken the mortal aspect which will no longer be required by the holy man. He will have attained his place as a part of all; cog­nizant of his exact place in it all; and absolutely accepting of it. In this painting the holy man has nearly realized that fulfillment and is only waiting, observing, understanding, being, and being a part of.
The holy man is pervaded by the passage of time and the presence of space. These do not effect him, nor effect the influences of him and creation upon one another. He is now striving to exist in the sphere beyond the effects of space and time: within the realm of soul, where self exists. He is a part of creation, merely an aspect of it, an awareness; a consciousness; as it is a consciousness of itself. Space and time are represented as simpler, unconscious aspects. They are means to physical ends, and therefore need not effect the holy man; but rather must be presented as thin, abstract sine-waves, modulated in accordance with their effects upon one another and serving him only the purpose of transmitting the physical aspects of the sun and sun-spot to his own physical aspects, his eyes and brain. These lines may be expected to intersect occasionally in the production of an event in the universe and one is seen now and then to veer off sharply into nothingness as its effect has passed. Someplace it will re-intersect with another to produce a new event. They appear to the holy man in complex groupings and re­lationships, simple in themselves, but profound in their compound relationships and resultant effects.

The Sun-Spot and the Holy Man, 1950
Martin Ries' "The Sun-Spot and the Holy Man, 1950

The painting is composed of two superimposed productions. One is in solid color and represents a psychological interpretation of actual physical events and facts. The production considered from left to right begins with space presented in gray, the psychological absence of all color, and proceeds to the sun, a solid reddish disc, irregular, and psychologically colored as hot and huge. The sun contains a cool gray-pink sun spot. The production then progresses toward the gradual beginnings of a structural gray material resembling rock which is presented in a realistic, earthy gray; thence to the background containing a silhouette of the holy man. This silhouette contains the realistic red brain with two small, black eyes; and seems contingent upon the black, honey foot structure.
The second production progresses from the bottom of the painting to the top. It is done completely in white lines which are scratched into the surface, adding emphasis to the abstract qualities of this presentation. It is very simply con­structed of two major sections, divided by a great scratch in the foreground that runs the length of the painting. This is a world-line; a presence of space-time, and it serves the purpose of dividing the physical plane, below, from the abstract but equally real plane above; that with which the artist and the holy man are dealing. The appendages and feet of the holy man are below this line resting in a neighborhood of physical reality presented in the lateral production. This is the point of marriage for the two, representative of the marriage of man with God and creation through his earthly origin. From this point the holy man progresses upward, passing through one concentration of spatiotemporal lines which represent the higher endeavors of man in his striving to commune with God, to an even higher concentration of such lines where he becomes one with God and creation. He is now connected with the physical plane only through the middle, relative, plane and only because of the persistence of the corporal feet.
It is interesting to note that these lines continue behind the physical objects in the first production except as they contribute to its actual construc­tion in an overall left to right evolution wherein the background evolves from the presence of world-lines in a void to their actual production of the constituent elements of the background. It is also interesting to note that the holy man’s influence upon his physical plane of existence is evidenced in the definite form which he casts upon it, his silhouette. This influence is simple fact and is very aptly pervaded, but not caused by, spatiotemporal lines. Moreover, this silhouette, being fact is abstract, and although real and absolute on the physical plane, it is nevertheless relative to all of creation. Hence it is represented in. the psychological gray used to represent the void, and is not elevated to the abstract form that presents the holy aspects of the holy man himself.
The precise and simultaneous integration of each detail of the two inter­dependent productions, evolving one another, and resulting in the completed paint­ing indicates the simultaneity of tact, and the elevation of absolute reality from the realm of temporal and spatial limitation. Only in a medium devoid of space end time can absolute relationship occur. The evolution of the painting is an actual experience in this medium.
Of further interest is the fact that although it is dependent upon the upper forces, the physical plane is real and absolute in itself. It is only when considered in relationship to the vertical production and the evolutions that it becomes relatively absolute. This fact is found in the actual organization of creation. Every part of the painting is relative to another in an intricate interdependency of presentations. The over-all effect, however, is absolute and independent. It is relative only to the observer.

- James Nyce
Washington DC





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