01 February 2019

Art for Meditation

Organising the mind and meditating through art: this is the aim of the project by fellow Ignacio Mateos, who holds a Master of Arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. His initiative “The Artpath Method” is the first-ever online course focused on meditation through the contemplation of art. 

How did the idea to create Artpath come about?

Ever since I was a boy, I’ve been a great lover of art, and over the years, practising meditation has gradually become part of my daily routine. One day, while observing a painting by Rothko, I realised that it took me longer than usual to contemplate certain works and that this state of concentration was quite similar to what I achieved through meditation. It was then that I understood that art was not only a powerful source of inspiration but also has the capacity to organise and bring peace to our troubled minds. Since then, I set out to create a tool that would make it possible to experience the aesthetic and meditative qualities of art through contemplation. 

How does it work for users?

"The Artpath Method" is our first online course and it has been designed in such a way that any user who follows the simple instructions given in the videos comprising each lesson can learn the basics of how to meditate through the contemplation of art. Our main mantra is "remember that you are a beginner every time you contemplate art". 

This is true not only with regard to the practice of meditation but also in appreciating any artistic expression. Despite the fact that the consumption of art has historically been done amidst an atmosphere of pretension and snobbery, here at Artpath, we want to show people that it’s possible to have an inspiring and healthy aesthetic experience by simply paying attention to their computer screen, whether or not they have any previous experience. 

What does art offer as an instrument in teaching people to meditate?

The capacity of art to take us to other times and places gives us the perfect opportunity to stop and meditate. In fact, all artistic expression is in some way a result of the artist’s meditation. Certain combinations of colours, textures or brushstrokes, accompanied by certain reflections can give rise to a truly relaxing, inspiring and invigorating experience. A properly contemplated piece of work can turn into the best of teachers. 

Which works do you think are more suitable for this purpose? 

Normally those capable of transporting the viewer naturally and almost imperceptibly from a figurative reference, such as a pond with Monet's famous water lilies, to a more abstract, nearly sacred atmosphere. For this purpose, landscapes and more abstract or symmetrical compositions work really well. In fact, in Oriental art, we can find certain archetypes, such as Tibetan mandalas, whose concentric patterns are used as an instrument for meditation.

Can you share some of the works that have had the most impact on you?

For example, to learn to live in the moment, there’s nothing better than looking at a painting by Monet who was interested—as any good Impressionist—in capturing different moments of light in the same motif through colour, whether it’s the Chartres Cathedral or the aforementioned water lilies. The comparison of the solidness of the mountain with the posture and attitude required for meditation is a classic in many schools of meditation, which is why I decided to start off the course by walking users through a print of Mount Fuji by Hokusai. As in the case of many Impressionist and Abstract Expressionist painters, I believe that the right understanding of Japanese aesthetics is crucial to respond to our simple, imperfect human emotions. 

You can find out more about the project here