The luminous in art

The luminous in art

Image meditation on works by Nicholas Roerich

Author: Paula Marvelly
Category: Art, Music & Literature
Issue No: 93

Immerse yourself in the visionary work of the Russian universal artist Nicolas Roerich and give yourself moments of immersion and contemplation in view of his paintings. This pictorial meditation is framed by information about Roerich’s life and work, as well as quotations from the same. However, the text should not be in the foreground, but rather the transcendent radiance of his works, which speak to our soul.

Born in St. Petersburg toward the end of the 19th century, Nicholas Roerich grew up in an upper-middle-class family and developed an aptitude for art and archaeology. During his studies, he pursued both an artistic education at the Academy of Arts and a legal education at St. Petersburg University, associating with eminent writers, painters, musicians, and art critics of the Russian intelligentsia and the Symbolist movement. He eventually met his future wife and soul mate Helena, a talented pianist and successful author whose books include The Foundations of Buddhism and a Russian translation of Helena Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine.

Indeed, both Roerichs were fascinated with discovering the interconnectedness of all life,

and became avid readers of the Vedantic essays of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, and the Bhagavad Gita. A few years later, in New York, they founded the Agni Yoga Society (“Agni Yoga” means “merging with the divine fire”), which espoused an ethic of life that embraced the esoteric philosophies and religious teachings of all ages from around the world. The Roerichs traveled extensively throughout Russia, Scandinavia, Europe, and America, during which time Nicholas created an unparalleled collection of paintings. These depict landscapes, religious iconography, and architecture, and reflect his ever-increasing insight into the need to preserve the world’s cultural and artistic heritage in order to uplift the spirit and elevate the soul, which became all the more immediate against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and the First World War.

Image meditation on works by Nicholas Roerich

Being as gifted with the pen as he was with the brush, Nicholas also composed during this period a collection of 64 blank verses entitled Flowers of Morya in Russian (Flame in Chalice in the English translation), revealing his inner spiritual journey, based on the mysticism of Hindu scriptures, which finds expression in his later paintings created during the Roerichs’ pilgrimage to India in search of the Eternal Self.
On a journey that included crossing 35 mountain passes, Nicholas created over 500 paintings documenting his expedition through the Himalayas, as well as a book, Heart of Asia, along with poems and almost daily essays, Diary Leaves. He believed that the harshness of mountains, indeed any seemingly insurmountable obstacle, shapes a person’s spirit and enables him to develop lasting courage and mental strength.

Image meditation on works by Nicholas Roerich

On the occasion of an anniversary, Nicholas wrote about Helena in his diary, speaking of their long and happy relationship: “40 years – no less than 40. On such a long journey, encountering many storms and dangers from outside, together we overcame all obstacles. And obstacles turned into opportunities. I dedicated my books to Helena, my wife, friend, travel companion, inspiration! Each of them was tested in the fire of life. And in St. Petersburg, Scandinavia, England, America and all over Asia we worked, we studied, we expanded our consciousness. Together we created, and not for nothing it is said that the work shall bear two names – a female and a male.”

The article originally appeared in English on the website:

We highly recommend stopping by and browsing this one. It is a compendium of timeless, wise and beautiful contributions.

In addition, we sincerely thank Paula Marvelly for providing the article on Nicholas Roehrich.

These are excerpts from the article.
You can learn more about the biography and understanding of art of the universal artist, read the full article. In addition, he was not only active as an artist, but was committed to the preservation of art and culture in turbulent times. The article is published in Tattva Viveka 93 and also available for download as ePaper for 2,00 € (Pdf, 9 pages).

About the Author

Paula Marvelly, founder and editor of The Culturium, has written about spirituality, culture, and the arts for many years. She holds a B.A. degree (Hons) in English from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and a postgraduate M.Phil. degree in European Studies from Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. She is the author of two non-fiction books and an artistic filmmaker. Her work can be viewed on Amazon, IMDb, Vimeo, and YouTube.

This article appeared originally on the German Homepage of Tattva Viveka: Das Leuchtende in der Kunst

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