“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
– Ernest Hemingway, “A Farewell To Arms”
The Japanese art of “Kintsugi” is a visual expression of Zen philosophy. Objects that are accidentally broken are repaired, and the glue is dusted with gold powder, creating a beautiful metallic accent. Instead of trying to hide the repair, Kintsugi treats it as part of the object’s history, accepting what happened and making things better.
The same thought is behind the Zen attitude toward life in general – whatever happens, it should become part of the life’s mosaic. Mistakes? Learn from them. Enemies? Forgive them. Weaknesses? Overcome them.
Everything that breaks can be repaired – and it can be repaired beautifully, to become stronger than before. This is the message of this painting – even if your background, your history, is damaged, that’s not a reason for your heart to break. You’re stronger than whatever happened.
This theme is echoed in many other cultures, particularly in their religious and spiritual aspects. Christians have “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”; Russian Orthodox Church has “while ascending – accept, so that while accepting, you’ll ascend”; Reform Judaism offers a mantra “Gam zu l’tovah!” (“this is for the good, as well”).
No matter what continent, culture, or time period, you can find the same common thread – facing your challenges, fears, and traumas makes you more resilient, more understanding, more compassionate.
Even though gold leaf is an expensive and challenging medium, I felt that in order to truly create a Kintsugi-style work, nothing less than actual gold would suffice. Working with gold leaf requires patience and precision, so creating these accents was a very meditative and therapeutic experience. The end result is completely worth it, too!
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