Heavenly Centaurs – People Whose Spirituality Doesn’t Mate with Life

Earthly beauty of the knight’s armor, of his proud helmet and brave weapon, of his erect posture on an athletic and obedient stallion of a warrior – is admired and saluted by the beauty of nature which meets the conqueror with flowers like aborigines the conquistadors-liberators (in liberators’ dreams). One such admirer can be seen in the background (right under the horse and the knight’s goldenly victorious leg).

While nature celebrates the knight’s solemn passing by, he, according to Klimt, himself doesn’t belong to the earthy system of coordinates. He is looking above his trip, his mission, the fact that he is the center of attention and all strength and glory and master over life. He is too glorious (too glamorously glorious) to pay too much attention to life, nature, human adoration and envy. For him the luxuriantly flowering verdures are only a miserable imitation of the starry heavens. Each flower here is a paper one, a speck in comparison with stars out there. And flowery gaudiness is muteness when compared with the loud silence of the sky.

The knight’s armor and spur is his answer to earth and life but the gaze of his soul belongs to the abode above. By cutting the upper part of the knight’s head by the frame of the painting, Klimt emphasizes the limitation of the earthy world for the knight’s taste. May be, for this reason he is a conqueror – beauty and life are for conquering. It is the best you can give to what is around you. What, on the other hand, is better than the best is located above the frame of life (signified by the frame of the painting). The knight here is the opposite of the Klimt-the painter for whom it is exactly what is inside the frame of the work of art is a transcendent reality.

The black/red pattern of death/blood reflected in/engraved on the memory of his helmet is not burdening his soul and mind. Life is ephemeral and not important. The juiciness of the colors and of the very flesh of living cannot be stored. Love towards life on earth is like the life of flowers – it is mortal. All nobility is in being above it like the stretched posture of Klimt’s knight, like his golden straight leg, like his neck bathing in celestial sphere and his gaze above the horizon.

The knight is a believer in a life above this life. It is from such knights the warriors of today come, with their high tech lances, and they murder women and children while conquering the world (breaking local resistances of men), or/and today’s global financial strategists and practitioners who send armies to any spot in the world. What are for them earthy flowers? Their eternal abode is their strength, power and glory, fame, success of their conquests and their starry wealth as a result. It is for the sake of the golden eternity of their religious, ideological, political and economic idolatrous beliefs that they are ready to sacrifice their lives and their intelligence. Like the mind of Klimt’s knight is above the earthy life, today’s war- and economic disaster-makers are above their own intelligence. But what is the value of earthy (human) intelligence in comparison with the pompous absolutes they pray to on their knees – strength, power, wealth, glory, beauty and military might?

Klimt looked at innocently and frivolously belligerent knight with a mixture of amazement and humor. But today, after two devastating wars of 20th century and two frivolous ones in the 21st we cannot even laugh at the warrior’s self-consciousness of a handsome savior. While in commercial art beauty becomes a wobbly vulgarity, in serious art today it either has been lost or became unrecognizable (went into an underground).