Awesome-with-Brahm-at-Kaaterskill-Falls-60x48-2Robert Masla, “Awesome, (with Brahm at Kaaterskill Falls)”, 60″x48″, Rembrandt oil on Fredrix linen canvas

The following is the Artists’ Statement from the Exhibition: “Robert Masla – Around the Corner & Beyond” opening with a reception for the artist at the R. Michelson Galleries, Northampton, MA. December 8, 2017 from 6 -8pm. You can preview the exhibition on the galleries website through that link.

“Seeing the Beauty” was the title of my last exhibition here at the R. Michelson Galleries. The declaration and supplication is perhaps even more important today than ever before. During these “interesting times”, it is easy to see only the darkness, the ugliness and lies, corruption and selfishness that spout at us through the media, through twitter. It is easy to say that there is “a fading light” from our feeble attempt at a Democracy. If a light ever existed, it was in words, ideas and the hearts of people. Certainly this country has enshrined in words, noble ideas and ideals that all civilized and humane persons would honor. But let us not fool ourselves, (or be fooled by those that would con us, again and again), though perhaps one of the most advanced in concept, our country has rarely lived up to those words and ideals in action. Founded on enslavement and the Native American genocide, (and continued through invasions, assassinations, coercions, coups, lies, more war, more genocide…, our nations history is a liturgy of shameful actions), the leaders of this great nation have continually placed profit before people, doing so at every opportunity. Yet, I see from watching natures rhythm… with every setting sun, there is a new day, with each fading light, a new dawn. I am forever the optimist, because I believe in the Beauty of the human spirit.

Let me explain:

Progressively for more than 2 thousand years and particular at this point in history, humankind in general has become increasingly separated from the natural world. This is not simply an evolutionary development, the result of “taming of a harsh environment”, but a design created by the continued influence and abuse of a male dominated , society. Rather than progressing towards “civilization”, humanity continues to cultivate it’s less than civilized traits, through a design that has sought to separate humans from our natural environment, -ultimately from ourselves. A design to separate us from our connection to our Mother Earth and one another.   This is because in creating this illusion of separation, (because we can never actually be separated from nature, -from ourselves), we fall under the illusion that we can be independent of IT – our very Self. and we seek satisfaction in a myriad of illusions funneled to us in an artificial consumer society. More importantly, with the illusion of separation driven by male dominance permeating our consciousness, humans can more easily choose to subjugate, abuse and exploit ”the other” – humans, animals, the environment, nature as a whole. This is the manifestation of globalized colonization, the hegemony of “white male values” to the far reaches of the planet. Monica and I experienced this in our recent travels to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The  qualities and behavior we end up developing in this society separated from it’s connection to nature are ones of predatory antagonism, bullying, selfishness, prejudice, racism, sexism, actions diminished in compassion and self awareness and inflated with a sense of privilege, self-importance, deception and conceit. Our current so-called leaders embody these negative qualities, and even wear them proudly, (certainly not great role models for children or society) and they are bold enough, (or greedy and ignorant enough) to declare that our actions as individuals and as a world community, do not have an impact on our environment. They continuously act in such a way as to place profit before the endangerment of the earths delicate balance and the survival of future generations.

Those controlling the flow of finance and resources, holding power and greed above human decency, creating and profiting from the wars and the gulf of ever widening separation between haves and have nots, are also responsible for the continued rape of the earth and its resources. They continue, through the ever tightening grasp and control on media and information to weave the web of illusions of separateness, of “Us” & “Them” the dream that “Our Self”  is separate from “Nature”. But there is an awakening slowly happening. -We must realize we are asleep in order to wake up. I believe everyone seeks Beauty, but they have forgotten how to see, (I believe this is the power and role of art – to SEE). I do not believe the majority of people are greedy, that is not my experience in traveling the world. In fact, the words that resound in me from the people we met in our recent travels, areas devastated by wars and violence, are “resilience”, “kindness”, “forgiveness”. The Rabbi that married Monica and I, Reb. Carlbach said to us, “When you see a spark of light in someone, you should fan it into a flame”. I believe in the Beauty of the human spirit. There is kindness and Beauty that exists in every human being, certainly there is cruelty and ugliness in each as well, but if we focus on the beauty, we help draw the beauty out.

I believe my role painting the landscape serves as a bridge to reconnect individuals and in a broader sense, society, to Beauty and our endangered landscape. I wish to draw attention to the Beauty that surrounds us, and flows through us and to identify our place and interdependence in nature, to communicate and find balance.

Throughout my career as an artist, I have worked in many styles and genres in my continued exploration of creativity. During these many years I have always been drawn back to painting the landscape, and find it particularly gratifying to do so “en plein air”, painting while immersed in nature. From my first plein air landscape with my mentor at around age 12 I felt an affirmation of an already experienced connection to nature. I see my painting as a spiritual practice, not in any religious dogmatic sense, but my sense of spirituality is a sense of connectedness. To feel my presence as a part of nature, as both a witness and a participant in creation as it unfolds. For me, painting outdoors is a meditation, an opportunity to be in nature with focused and expanded awareness. I often experience a sense of expansion and awe, a humbling and an ecstatic joy. In many of my landscape paintings I represent this feeling by pitting the finite against the infinite expanse. My painting is a celebration of life energy, connection and the beauty of creation. If I am successful, I am able to convey this to those that experience my artwork. – That satisfaction we all seek, real happiness comes when we contact Beauty. The place within where we are connected to Nature, to each-other, to our Selves. It is here & now, right in front of us, Around the Corner & Beyond.