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Authenticity is like Modern Art

Several years ago I attended a lecture at a Buddhist Center given by a famous artist. Doris, a painter whose work hangs in public and private collections, was speaking about Modern Art and its connection to Buddhism. One of her key points was why she felt many people have an aversion to modern art versus more traditional art.

She shared photos of Old Master paintings, realistic, understandable, relatable, and then photos of her own work – Modern art — organic, unbound by the frame, open to interpretation.

Doris’s premise was that Modern Art is like groundlessness, a Buddhist concept that speaks to the shifting sands of life. Groundlessness is unsettling to people. It reminds us of the surprising nature of life, the chaos inherent in the human existence. Hence, she continued, when people see abstract Modern Art, it brings forward that visceral feeling of having no ground under our feet. Many of us don’t like that.

A messy business

Authenticity can be a messy business. Like Modern Art, an authentic life is organic: flowing and ebbing, rising and falling, finding the nooks and crannies of what’s really real for you.

Authenticity is a journey, not a destination.

Our lives are like lumps of clay that we work with our hands and our hearts, pulling off bits and adding more in places. We are works in progress, never really done, always learning and growing (we hope). Making art is messy.

Authenticity is freedom

Look at a landscape painting and it makes sense. There’s a horizon line, a foreground, often it’s done in perspective so it appears that you’re looking through the lens of a camera at a real place. Modern art often floats on the canvas, or in the air, and may not be bound by the edges of a frame.

Living really real is freeing.

Your authentic self is boundless. You choose the boundaries for your life, the colors, the texture, even the subject matter (read more about that here).

Living really real is freedom.

Your life, a work of art

Creating and living an authentic life is connecting to the essence of who you are at your core. That essence is unique to you. What you bring forward and how you manifest your really real is your decision.

You can learn from the masters, like Doris, Picasso or Cassat. However, to live in authenticity – really real – you need to choose your own colors, your own canvas (or hell, maybe you don’t even want a canvas because your really real is more sculpture than painting!), your own technique…

Your life is a work of art. Put on your smock and get making your life authentic.

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