Monthly Archives: May 2017

Being single

Essentially, I think that’s all we ever are: single. Maybe not in the exact way that the word connotes. I don’t want to repeat cliches like, “we are born alone and we die alone”, but that doesn’t make any of them less true. We are all fundamentally alone. We touch lives and we share lives, but that doesn’t make us not alone. It just makes us not lonely.

There’s an indispensable difference between loneliness, and being alone. While loneliness describes being destitute of companions, being alone just means being apart from others which we all are. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Everything and anything which we don’t say out loud, whether it be with words, with writing, or with the emotions that do surface, is our own and it is isolated from everyone and anyone we share the world with.

Relationships allow you to experience this world with someone you care for. But this feeling of companionship is slightly more illusory. Other people can only vicariously comprehend your life through their own eyes. You are never not alone.

So, being single should come like second nature to us, right? Being single should be nothing but mastering the art of being alone, which we all fundamentally are. Doing things for yourself, and striving to be a better version of yourself everyday, that’s what being single should be about. Until you get lonely.

Most often being alone morphs into loneliness. When you start getting tired of discovering and re-discovering both the world, and yourself, and begin feeling unsatisfied with your inability to share your progress with somebody, things get gloomy. You want someone to take interest in your passions, someone to flourish with. Someone you can grow to love, because it gets lonely at the top. Cliche, I know, but maybe cliches are worth more than immediate dismissal. They exemplify common thoughts. And in this particular case, perhaps they offer a reason for us to feel less lonely in our conviction to master being single in adulthood.

Perhaps then, the underlying difficulty in getting over a break up, or forgetting about someone, is to do with all the sharing rather than all the loving. Maybe what we struggle with is not the absence of the hand of a loved one, but the absence of a hand that we grew used to holding, and the absence of a soul to listen and adore the things you adore. It’s not evident at first. You fail to see it through all the brooding. But when all the heartbreak is over, we start longing for that overwhelming warmth in our hearts. We seek a new partner to experience new things with, to share with.  How did that old saying go again? Sharing is caring? Told you cliches are worth more than immediate dismissal. 

The next time you find yourself struggling to move on after a break up, or you feel overcome with the desire for a significant other, remind yourself that we are all alone, and if you start to feel empty, it’s not because you’re alone, it’s because you’re lonely. And hey, guess what? There are so many lonely people. Ergo there are so many people who can’t wait to share their lives with others, to interact, to communicate, and possibly do all of this with you… All you really have to do is listen.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

De Stijl

aka neoplasticism. 

Having lived in Holland for 12 years, I was under the impression that I had a fair grasp on Dutch art history. I was familiar with names such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Mondrian from a young age; I even have a distinct memory of  making a collage in the style of Piet Mondrian during my  primary education. We had learned about his preference to use primary colours in his works: red, yellow and blue.

Last month, I was back in the Netherlands, revisiting memories and growing nostalgic over my town of birth. While I was there, I decided to visit the Gemeente Museum, where they have a continuous Piet Mondrian & De Stijl exhibit. I thought that this would help enhance what I already know on the artist and his style. Much to my surprise, I walked out of the exhibit thinking, ‘Wow, I knew almost absolutely nothing about this guy!’

Piet Mondrian was just one artist among several who were united under De Stijl, a school of art founded in the Netherlands circa 1917. The theory and practice of De Stijl group shook the foundations of modern art on an international scale.

As I previously mentioned, Piet Mondrian embraced painting in black, white, primary colours, and straight lines. His early works, which for the most part reflected reality as he perceived it, transformed gradually and became progressively abstract.  What influenced Mondrian the most was one of many avant-garde movements: cubism. Cubism was primarily characterized by the use of geometric shapes and a monochromatic use of colour. Although Mondrian’s early work is realistic, over time he becomes inspired by the cubist style and adopts his own style.

The school of art which is now recognized as De Stijl, was not only embraced by painters but also by sculptures, and architects. In fact, one of Holland’s most famous designers, Gerrit Rietveld, designed an armchair inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl. This design which has gained world-wide fame is known as Rood-Blauwe Stoel (translation: Red and Blue chair). 

I was also surprised to discover that there was another founding father of De Stijl movement: an artist named Theo van Doesburg. Doesburg was a man of many talents, practicing poetry, painting and architecture. Unlike Mondrian who’s version of this avant-garde movement was called neoplasticism, Doesburg preferred calling this movement elementarism, as it emphasized linear and geometric shapes with subtle shifts in tone and angle. This different perception of the style is perhaps what led to Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg’s split in 1924. Doesburg  believed that the power and importance of abstraction lay in the harmony which could be achieved by it. He also felt that despite elementarism being a simple and minimal approach, on a spiritual and moral level it is uplifting. This is particularly visible in his work, The Dancers.


It’s funny how you can live in a place for so long and think you know about its cultural background, but then years later you can turn back and realize that there are many gaps to fill in.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,