• March 30, 2010

“Art and the Religious Sense”: an unforgettable Panel Discussion about the Quest for Beauty

On March 8, one block north of Columbus Circle, pianist Hisako Hiseki’s mes­mer­izing Spanish sonatas filled the space of the American Bible Society’s Concert Hall. The room was packed and the audi­ence was cap­ti­vated. Co-orga­nized by Heart’s Home USA and Crossroads Cultural Center, this event was not only a dis­cus­sion about beauty, for beauty was pre­sent among us throughout the night in the music as well as in the words, and in pic­tures and the pas­sionate ded­i­ca­tions of our dis­tin­guished pan­elists.

  • Our first speaker, Etsuro Sotoo, introduced us to the fascinating story of his “encounter” with Antonio Gaudi. Entrusted with the huge and lifelong task of bringing to completion his unachieved masterpiece, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, he found himself following the track of the Spanish architect. Since all of Gaudi’s plans where lost when his studio was burned by revolutionaries in 1936, to complete the work Etsuro had to figure out “the secret of his genius”. Gaudi, he said, "was a man who, through architecture, tried to discover what the happiness of mankind is. [...] What he really wanted to do was to make his clients, his customers, happy. His happiness was the happiness of the people who lived in his buildings. That was what he sought. Gaudí believed that true happiness was to live within oneself. To that end, he learned from nature not only appearances, but how to use the power of nature. For example, having gravity dictate the design of the structure; to have light determine the design of the windows; to have the wind design the smokestacks..."
  • Makoto Fujimura followed, an outstanding painter and founder of the widespread International Arts Movement. As “Sotoo-san” following his master Gaudi, Makoto tells about his encounter with the French painter George Rouault, to whom he dedicated his latest show Soliloquies. Describing his own work in relation to Rouault’s, he said : "What I wanted to do with these paintings is provide a theatrical background for Rouault’s drama." As the artist engages in conversation with past masters and present challenges, said Makoto, beauty hints towards a presence. "You’re not alone... Your soliloquy becomes soliloquies... And listening to Sotoo-san speak about Gaudí, their works are soliloquies that resonate beyond time itself, and they speak into our present world."
  • Our third and last speaker, Rev. Thierry de Roucy, the founder of Heart’s Home, echoed both Sotoo and Makoto, emphasizing the connection between the personal quest for beauty and the necessity for the artist to belong and follow a company striving for it. "Masters, he commented, engage and reveal my true subjectivity. They save it from the subversive dictatorship of trends and the ruling ideologies. They show me the way to my own heart, to that longing deep inside me. Thus they empower my subjectivity to address and embrace the objectivity of the real and the quest for the ideal."

By their words, their pas­sion, and their craft, all four pro­tag­o­nists of this unfor­get­table night cer­tainly gave us a great example of this. They helped us deepen our own quest for beauty, filling us with the serene cer­tainty of its mys­te­rious reality and call.

Paul Anel

Etsuro Sotoo Makoto Fujimura Rev. Thierry de Roucy
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