WINDOWS, DOORS AND BRIDGES

“You suppose that you are the lock on the door. But you are the key that opens it.”
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī Mevlana

This is a new cycle that I have started working on in 2018 which will be developed in the upcoming years. It is focused on presenting images that show connections, unions, flow and passage of ideas from one land or culture to another and striving towards new destinations in life.

The idea for it stems from my earliest cycle, The Balkans – Captured Moments, in which I deliberated on the fact that the Balkans are a historical passage point through which large masses of people have passed and are still doing so until present in their pursuit of a better life. With this transition comes the flow of various ideas and concepts from East to West. Furthermore, in one of my newer cycles of paintings there was an image of a city standing between East and West. This is city is current day Istanbul which is traversed by numerous bridges connecting its Asian to its European side. With these two factors in mind, I cannot not take into consideration the current movement of people we are witnessing. This gives ample ground for fusing ideas past and present to arrive at yet another interpretation of this theme of how we people are all connected.

Windows are architectural elements which have a symbolic meaning in art usually associated with intermediation between interior and exterior. They are a means of observation, inadvertent voyeurism, communication, liberation, hope, opportunities or escapism. Though life indoors is limited by walls, it is enough to open a window and look at the world from above. Thus, we observe and discover the outside world, nature and the unknown horizons. We strengthen our sense of community and belonging. The air and light passing through bring us hope and lift our spirit showing the way to new opportunities. As the famous line from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”, by lead protagonist, Maria, asserts, “when the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” Furthermore, at the windows dates are being appointed and serenades sung. Windows are the harbor from which ships sail away into unknown expanses, into the open seas, towards unpredictable encounters and experiences. On the other hand, windows facilitate separation and seclusion. Together with walls, they delineate the spaces we inhabit and what we chose to keep private. Windows can morph into boundaries separating space and worlds, human souls and people.

Doors represent the entry from one space or time to another, a threshold, a metamorphosis, a potential opportunity or a new beginning. However, they can also be seen as boundaries, barriers or keepers of a secret. Sometimes gaining access may be as simple as turning the handle, but at other times doors are locked and they present us with a choice to either try to enter them peacefully or forcibly. We may need to knock or ring the bell and negotiate with the guardian or keeper of the door, requiring a correct password which will secure our entry. This theme recurs in countless stories, fairytales and myths, from “Ali Baba” through “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe” to the “Secret Garden”. Alternatively, we may be forced to exert effort and force which carries connotations of suddenness, breakthrough and paradigm shifting.

Bridges are an element that connects two sides or shores or two realms. They can be actual or abstract. By crossing over a bridge one overcomes an obstacle, be it concrete as a river or a gorge, or a more abstract one. Thus, it represents also transition or a voyage. Every bridge has its story of building and/or demolishing. In the book “From One Shore to Another: Reflections on the Symbolism of the Bridge” edited by Sanda Badescu, there is a reference to a legend still surviving in parts of Serbia according to which “…in the beginning the earth was one and undivided and people could come and go as they pleased. However, with the arrival of death, the earth split in two: this world and the hereafter. In despair, human beings prayed day and night to God, begging Him to bring these two parts together. God took pity on the just and blew on the earth to create a bridge between the two worlds.” (Djuric 1999, 43)

Yet, for me, one of the greatest interpretations of the bridge as a symbol is that of hope. Hope brings inspiration and dreams. It beckons you to take a step in the direction of achieving these dreams.

“The door of illumination is open to those for whom other doors are closed.” Idries Shah

“Of all the things created and built by humankind as a part of life’s effort, nothing in my mind is better or worthier than bridges. They are more important than houses, more sacred, and more universal than temples. They belong to all and treat all alike; they are useful, always built for a purpose, at a spot where most human needs entwine; they are more durable than other buildings and serve no secret or evil purpose…”

“…They are all essentially one, they are equally worthy of our attention, because they show the place where humankind encountered an obstacle and did not stop before it, but overcame and bridged it the way humankind could, according to understanding, taste, and circumstances…”

“…Thus, everywhere in the world, wherever my thoughts wander or stop, they encounter faithful and silent bridges like an eternal and ever insatiable human desire, to connect, to reconcile, and to join everything that challenges our spirit, eyes and feet, to stop division, contradiction, or parting….”
“Bridges”, Ivo Andric