Finding Agnes Martin


On a recent visit to New York I finally found my way to Dia Beacon, one of the most beautiful museums I have ever seen so far.
I did not know the works of the painter Agnes Martin before, but her soft paintings with lines and grids stuck in my mind after I had left. Her paintings gave me an intense sense of peace and tranquility, a space to breathe. I wanted to know a bit more about her life and work and so I bought the documentary “Agnes Martin, with my back to the world” made by Mary Lance.
The last months I have been more intensely exploring slowing down things in my life and the importance of emptying the mind to become more concentrated. Agnes Martin found the truth on her route through life, she can only say these things because she found out for herself:

“I gave up on all facts entirely in order to have an empty mind for inspiration to come into. If your mind is full of garbage, if inspiration came, you would not recognize it anyway. So you have to practice to quiet the mind.”

she goes on:

“I think the aim of people is wrong. All is about ambition, striving for more. I believe in sitting around waiting for inspiration. All aggressive behavior is wrong. You go out and do and attack things. All this hard fast life, go, go, go! I am absolutely convinced that with a soft attitude you receive more.”

and on:

“It’s very hard to quiet the mind, you have to go slower and slower and stop. Then your mind is at rest, and then you have to not try to hard. I found out that the best way is to just look around you and don’t look for anything just be in the mood to see the truth. It’s a happy state of mind, very small happiness.”

and on:

“Suffering means that you have chosen a negative. when you make a negative choice, you have made a choice that will be harmful to yourself or somebody else. A positive choice is a choice that will make you or somebody else happy and comfortable. Only the positive choices count.”

Her words made me think of a cardboard sign I found on the street of New York recently.