So I managed to catch the Ad Reinhardt exhibit at the David Zwirner Gallery in NYC before it closed in December. I was actually drawn to the exhibit because it included Reinhardt’s comics. I am one of those readers of New Yorker magazine, who before reading a word, flips through all the comics first.
As I walked through Reinhardt’s very satirical “How To Look” comic series, from the corner of my eye, I could see the room that held his Black Paintings, those that he is renowned for. From afar they really didn’t have a pull on me, because they looked just that – a series of paintings that were all a single color.
Nevertheless I finally made my way into the room. As I placed myself in front of the very first of the Black Paintings, spontaneously I uttered the words “OOOhhhh Sugar!” There it was, this 5′ x 5′ square of stretched linen seemingly covered with just black paint. At first impression there is nothing to see except the singular color black. Encountering that singular experience, even thinking to oneself, “Okay, well… got that… there is nothing else here”, one is inclined to quickly move on to the next thing. But then, as you hold your ground – relax a bit – take interest and reach into what is before you – slowly the canvas reveals reds, blues, and greens. “Ohhh SUGAR!!!”
Like Art, Yoga often reminds us that time requires our participation. Very often, the present moment can seem at first as blah & monochromatic as a black canvas: “Nothing is here!!! All that was good has come and gone, or has yet to come”. We get into a yoga posture and at first all we encounter is limitation, thinking to ourselves, “There is nothing here except limitation.” We close our eyes for meditation, and at first all we encounter is darkness & chaos, thinking to ourselves, “There is nothing here except darkness & chaos.” And so we prepare to move on to the next thing.
But then instead, if we hold our ground and relax into the space we find ourselves in, the depth and dimension of the present moment slowly unfolds. Looking more deeply into the initial experience of limitation in a yoga posture, we also find vibration, pulsation, and electricity. We find energy! In the darkness & chaos of meditation, we find silence alongside noise, steadiness alongside agitation.
And so whether we are standing before one of Reinhardt’s Black Paintings, or standing on one leg, or sitting at dinner alone or across a longtime companion, we are left to wonder, “Might the colors
in our lives be more easily revealed, if we participated more in time?”