Art and Meditation walk into a bar

What should you think when you face Kandinsky's Composition VIII ? Did the artist try and represent the galaxies on another plane ? Are the cold and warm colours supposed to convey a feeling ? Let's try something else.

When you look at Composition VIII and label the colours and forms or try to comprehend the artist's intention, you're using what Daniel Kahneman calls System 2. Your slower, more deliberative, and more logical brain. Try and use System 1. You fast, instinctive and emotional brain. This one doesn't need effort to function, it jumps from one automatic association to another. 24/7.

Alain De Botton writes in "Art as therapy" : "We hunger for artworks that will compensate for our inner fragilities and help return us to a viable mean. We call a work beautiful when it supplies the virtues we are missing, and we dismiss as ugly one that forces on us moods or motifs that we feel either threatened or already overwhelmed by. Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness."

When facing an artwork, we often try to "reach" an understanding. The second we "try" we're using System 2. Instead, by letting system 1 do its "thing". By simply standing there and looking without putting words on our thoughts and labels on the world, we reach one state meditation funnels us to, namely "Wu-wei" (pronounced oooo-way) which literally translates into "not trying". But more on oooo-way this Thursday ;D