Dec 132014

Last week I visited the highly recommended exhibition “Vom Japonismus zum Zen. Paul Klee und der Ferne Osten” at the Cologne Museum dür Ostasiatische Kunst. In case you want to study which way Asian Zen Art influenced Western Art, this is an excellent opportunity to follow a less known trace!

Besides a group of four to five elderly ladies, to my surprise I was the only visitor on this Saturday afternoon. Maybe the lack of other people or maybe the communicative nature of the Rheinland folks made the semi-private guide of the ladies group speak out loud and without hesitation what she knew about the artwork on display. It was entertaining to listen and gave me some good hints where to start and when to end with an explanation, when next time guests at my Dojo and gallery produce a puzzled expression on their face while looking at my calligraphy.

"Gustav" in the movie "Erleuchtung Garantiert" (Enlightenment Guaranteed) from Doris Dörrie.

“Gustav” in the 1999 film “Erleuchtung Garantiert (Enlightenment Guaranteed)” by Doris Dörrie.

The vociferous tour-guide was just about commenting on a Daruma ink painting, when one of the group members asked “And how does one become enlightened?”. Without a moment of hesitation the guide replied “You have to live a very strict life, follow many rules, diet, lots of meditation, no pleasure, no music, no sex … and worst of all, no alcohol! Then, after many years, you will become enlightened!”. Silence. Deep breaths from the impressed audience … and she continued “Though, after you achieved enlightenment, you may eat and drink and enjoy your life as before. When you are enlightened, you are allowed to live the same life as we do!”.

After a dramatic pause the wise guide concluded “Basically, we are all enlightened!”. The whole group seemed much satisfied with her answer and left, so I could enjoy some silent private time with the masterpieces of Zen Art and Paul Klee’s re-interpretation.

If you come to Cologne, make sure not to miss the exhibition, and the cheerful temper of the unquestionably enlightened locals!