Getting to know my brother

Spiritual Mountains (No.742), 2011, 70 x 38", ink & color on paper ( Finger Painting)

This journey started shortly after my brother’s death. While cataloging his paintings, his different styles and evolvement began to emerge. I was already infatuated. But, what was the thinking behind these works? How did they evolve? I had all the questions but none of the answers.

A year later, the decision of doing a retrospective exhibition was made. I had secured the venue and a wonderful curator. I was now embarking on a project I had no experience in. The stress level was going up. I began to think about the biography for the exhibition catalog and I started my research. My brother did not keep any records nor wrote about his work. He did have scattered notes here and there. They were mostly random thoughts, conversations with himself but a few did relate to his art. There were other clues amongst his belongings, his past exhibition catalogs and old newspaper clippings of interviews. Like a detective, I began to piece together all the clues.

Zen philosophy was always important to Wesley. In his notes, he talked about enlightenment. He also referred to his landscape paintings as Zen landscapes. But I did not quite grasp what all that meant. To manage my stress better, I took up transcendental meditation (TM). Shortly afterwards, I began to feel the benefits. I was calmer and less irritable. My sixth chakra ( the eye) got much stronger. I seemed to be more insightful. I revisited some of these notes that I did not quite understand. As if a different channel in my brain had opened up, I suddenly understood what my brother was talking about! It was such a joyful and exciting moment for me. Not only did I get it, I had just started on the same path! We would have had so much to talk about.

Wesley understood that to elevate his art to a higher level, he must transcend himself from within. This was what he worked on. The life of the spirit was essential to his quest and that was what painting from the heart meant to him. He recognized that art and religion shared a deep connection. For his spiritual quest, he explored both buddhist and Christian faiths.

Both splashed ink and finger painting are about fluidity and spontaneity. When Wesley painted, he would do it in one breath. There was no pre-planning, no drafts, no coming back to it later. The image would come to him and he just let it flow out onto the paper. I believe painting was a form of meditation to him. He would be in the zone, completely immersed and not aware of his surrounding.

In a note, written when Wesley was in his middle age, he wrote:

All these years, I have never stopped creating, working every day and dedicating myself to the arts and study of Zen so I can create landscapes from a pure, unified state of mind. “Flowing from a world beyond” best describes the origin of my landscape and Zen paintings”

With a better understanding, I began to look beyond the surface and began to feel the spirit behind my brother’s work. I can now clearly see his movements and feel his energy. His paintings have become alive to me. I still have questions and I am sure in time, I will have more answers. But for now, I am content and happy that I got to know my brother better through his work.

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