• May 29, 2008

Art, Teacher of Compassion

Artpiece realized by Oswaldo Guayasamín

"Since our foun­da­tion, we have been trying to listen to those who have the deepest thirst, to those whose life is the most depre­ci­ated, to those who are the loneliest. Since 1990, we have been trying to learn from many mas­ters. We learn a lot from the chil­dren who are, in many places, our first friends. But little by little we found that artists also could be very good mas­ters of Compassion.

The artist gives his own life to offer the world his glance on reality through his cre­ation. We want to give our own lives to give the world a new way of looking at reality. Behind each face encoun­tered, in front of each event, we are looking for the beauty, the Mystery, and a com­mu­nion.

Art makes us look for Beauty

The artist has a pas­sion for the mate­rial he uses. He sees from the begin­ning how he will use it and trans­form it. The painter likes the colors, the sculptor likes the wood, the pianist likes each note. In his hand the mate­rial will be trans­formed, exalted, as it will express the very inti­mate and unique way of seeing of the artist. Thus the artist reveals to the world the truth of this mate­rial, what it is able to give and to be.

In our neigh­bor­hood, we espe­cially like to look for beauty where it is hidden. When I look at Mary and see how she is lying on her bed, without speaking, without moving, I also see her mar­velous smile which illu­mi­nates her whole face and reveals her soul. In our neigh­bor­hood we espe­cially like to look for the rebel­lious child because we know that, if loved, he is capable of the greatest ten­der­ness. In our neigh­bor­hood we have a pas­sion for all the people since we know that all of them, as crea­tures of God, wear some­thing beau­tiful in each heart. Our work through our friend­ship and prayer is to reveal to the world the true beauty of each heart.

Art gives the taste of nostalgia

Art trans­lates what is deepest in the heart of the artist, the image of one’s soul. Art nei­ther imi­tates nor repeats but says the orig­inal aspi­ra­tion of Man to the Infinite. The finite beauty of a piece of art shows the thirst of man for an infinite Beauty.

In coming closer to suf­fering, in coming closer to poor people, deprived people, des­ti­tute people, we learn that Man has been cre­ated for some­thing greater than his actual sit­u­a­tion. When I see Robert drunk in the street my heart tells me that he is more than what he looks like. When I look at Sandra, this little girl who worked all day long to help her family by selling some tor­tillas, who has been abused a thou­sand times and who is laughing with this beau­tiful inno­cence, I know that some­thing in her heart is the sign of the Absolute. Artists and all those who have this sen­si­bility will look for the Mystery Man in him­self who is greater than he is.

Art calls us to a communion

We can pass by a piece of art and judge it at a glance. We can also choose to spend time in front of a piece of art in an atti­tude of respect, asking for the grace to enter in com­mu­nion with the art, with the artist. Then, even if our intel­li­gence does not under­stand every­thing, our judg­ment will be dif­ferent.

Very often suf­fering is beyond our under­standing. That is why we’d rather pass by and not stay. Now we can stand in front of reality trying to listen rather than to speak, trying to wel­come rather than to see what we want to see, trying to learn and not to teach, offering a ques­tion rather than an expla­na­tion. Then reality will be given to us as it is. Then the cross will take the face of a person, then a com­mu­nion is pos­sible, then com­pas­sion is pos­sible. I remember Dan in a nursing home for AIDS patients. When we came close to him and said hello to him, we were won­dering if we should stay as his face was very sad. We started to show an interest for him and for what hap­pened to him. He first did not under­stand. A few min­utes later, though, a friend­ship had begun. I will never forget him.

To seize those moments of com­mu­nion, to seize the beauty of an encounter, all that we need to do is to wel­come reality with an open heart with the sim­plicity of a child, able to rec­og­nize the beauty of each one. Each person reveals to me how much the heart of a man is made for beauty. Art is revealing Beauty and there­fore is revealing the beauty of mankind, the beauty of the heart.

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