During the time of various global responses to the pandemic, each individual reacts to the external changes in her or his own way, while we all try to calmly go through the current insecure phase of our lives. We looking for new challenges, gain new knowledge and skills, or we undergo an audit, refreshing external and internal spaces and look for hidden sources of strength. Whatever our pattern is, it always turns out to be good to be fully aware of the present moment. Observing works of art can be a suitable way to slow down our daily rhythm, relax our mind and to develop greater concentration. In the National Gallery of Slovenia, we were inspired by respected European and American galleries that have for decades facilitated mindfulness programmes and encouraged their visitors to use works of art to sharpen their focus and in this way enrich their experience of perceiving art.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way to train our ability to concentrate on the present moment. We can see it as a purposeful, judgement-free slowing down. Mindfulness enables us to connect with ourselves and the world around us and to fully experience what is happening. Mindfulness is made of directing our focus to either breathing, physical feelings in the body or one of the senses. Through mindfulness we strengthen our inner observer and eventually become aware of our thought processes.
Mindfulness in the Gallery
Mindfulness in the Gallery can be practiced by giving ourselves time to neutrally observe a work of art. Gallery mindfulness can be an incredibly useful tool to calm and soothe our (over)active mind.
While the Gallery is temporarily closed
Each week, we will post a work of art and advice on mindfulness on the Gallery website and social media accounts. We invite you to take five to ten minutes each day to slow down and observe a work of art from the Permanent Collection.
Some advice for mindfulness
Relax. Find a comfortable spot and allow yourself to relax while observing the picture. Calm and concentrate your mind on the painting. Be aware of your breathing. Breathe in a relaxed and usual rhythm and observe your breathing in and out. Loosen your body. While observing the picture, pay attention to sensations in the body. Are any parts of it tense? Focus on your back, shoulders, neck, jaws, eyes. Loosen and relax your body. Allow. Allow your thoughts to come and leave freely. When your mind starts to wander, gently redirect it back to the painting. Accept. Accept your surroundings and all the sounds or noises around you. Allow them to be part of your experience while observing the painting.
At the same time, try to direct your mind to the following questions. How are you feeling while observing the painting? What draws your attention in the picture? The artist’s brushstrokes, composition, light, shadow, colours, shapes, figures/objects, motif? What mood and atmosphere do you see in the painting? Why do you thing the artist made this picture?
Indulge in the blaze of Jakopič’s colours
Rihard Jakopič, Bathers (video)
Rihard Jakopič (Ljubljana, 1869-1943)Bathers
Oil, canvas, 105.5 x 74.5 cm
Rihard Jakopič, considered one of the pioneers of Slovenian Impressionism, introduced several new motifs to domestic art, the bathers being among them. He probably painted them even before 1900 and often repeated the motif. In his account, he designed the figures from memory, with the help of photographs and academic studies from his Munich years. Jakopič was not interested only in light penetrating the treetops and lighting up the bodies, but also in the warmth and energy of the sun that is radiating through the vegetation and invigorates the bodies. Through the whole series of Jakopič’s Bathers, we can feel the primal power of nature and the living dynamic of the bodies. All of this is expressed in the picture through the intensified colour contrasts (warm colours of the sun and the bodies versus cool colours of the vegetation and water) and commanding brushstrokes.
Let Metzinger's St Augustine move you from the mind into the heart
Valentin Metzinger, St Augustine (video)
(Saint-Avold, 1699 – Ljubljana, 1759)
St Augustine, (c. 1741)
Oil, canvas, 102 x 102 cm
»Inasmuch as love grows in
you, in so much beauty grows; for love is itself the beauty of the soul.«
»Patience is the companion
In the picture, we see St
Augustine (354−430), mystic, theologian, philosopher, great orator and writer.
He was the greatest Doctor of the Church, bishop and teacher, who nevertheless
believed in the supreme power of the heart – love; to this day, his thoughts
are an inexhaustible treasure chest of wisdom. His most well-known works are De
Civitate Dei (The City of God) and Confessiones (Confessions).
St Augustine is depicted
in the moment God was present and his writing was interrupted by profound inner
excitement, which the painter depicted as the saint's flaming heart in his
right hand. The Father's silent mouth and eyes pointed above are the only two
other external signs of the intense inward experience.
The painting comes from
the chapel of the Črni potok castle, which Valentin Metzinger, an immigrant
Baroque painter, decorated with four tondos of the Fathers of the Church, in
addition to two ovals depicting St John Nepomucene and The Holy Family.
Embrace a new day with Aurora by Giovanni Andrea Carlone
Giovanni Andrea Carlone, Aurora, Dawn (video)
Giovanni Andrea Carlone (Genoa, 1639–1697),
Aurora, Dawn, (c. 1678)
oil, canvas, 129 x 97.5 cm
Flaxen-haired, slightly exposed
young woman, seen springing up and towards us, is most likely an allegory of
Aurora or Dawn. Her image is breaking away from the darkness of the night and she
seems to radiate light as she soars above the earth, scattering flowers from
her lap across it. Aurora's face is youthful and dewy, with an adorable look.
She is accompanied by a putto with a torch – Phosphorus or the Morning Star is
helping her chase away the darkness and bring forth the light. In the right
corner below, a golden light is already spilling across the horizon of a dusky
landscape, announcing the return of the Sun.
In the picture, we are captivated by a masterful play of
light and shadow and the harmony of colourful highlights with invigorating red flowers.
Carlone worked in several Italian art centres and was influenced by different
Baroque masters. In the picture, he emphasized the gracefulness and serenity on
both faces, and at the same time animated the scene with cropped figures,
dynamic diagonal composition and empathic gestures.
Coordination: Živa Rogelj
Text: Kristina Preininger
Video: Luka Hribar, Sabina Rotter
From November 2020 onwards