Death, After Death, After Life – The Artist Belongs to All the Three States

Paul Klee, “Stern Visage”, 1939

Person who has died is crossing the famous river separating the kingdom of the living from that of the dead (separating life from deadness that is somehow trying to live, separating light from darkness, hope from the vanity of hope, and fears from the knowledge). A gloomy voyage, stern visage of the ultimate traveler and his meek gaze.

The dead eyes of the one who just died, quickly adapt to the darkness, became part of it and are able to see, and even appeal to others. The paddle – the waning moon still gives off light to the human neck and the head-the sail, and only the boat – the human body resists being seen in darkness – tarnished by the dirty-blew splashes of the water. The paddle-moon projects memory of the sunlight to the head-sail and to the mast-neck, but the boat-body is already corpse.

Of course, the protagonist is sad, his eyes, ready to cry, are emptied by death. They are telling us of his nostalgia, as if, it is in our, who are still alive, power to help him – how we can help the one, who is so much ahead of us. His sadness and his resignation join his obedience to his destiny – he is still appealing but has already surrendered. He is in a process of disintegrating – already looks like children’s Lego toy: set of pieces to be put together and taken apart. He fell into pieces. Compassion we may feel for him is compassion for ourselves (in us the tragedy of mortality is not yet muffled by the inevitable). He lost wholeness, he has been disintegrated-shattered by the materiality of dying. He is a trace, not even an echo of the materiality of living.

We follow him – his face is “stern”, but not his soul which still keeps its spiritual equanimity and looks at us with the memories alive by remembering.

For real artist like Paul Klee, who is capable of existentializing (transforming into a spiritual living) everything he is settling in through his imagination, the future is not an exercise in ignoring death – jumping over it to see what is there through something like virtual reality lenses, but alive after-death experience.

Paul Klee (1897)

Paul Klee (1879-1940)