The Pure Heart

Anne Arneberg
jun. 2016|Article

“The pure heart; on the soul’s bravery in the struggle for the purity of the heart.”

The quotation, a book title, is borrowed from John Cassian’s (ca. 360–433) writings on the purity of the heart and the struggle against the eight vices. According to Cassian, a pure heart is a crucial precondition for the most important of all the virtues, discretio, the ability to sort important from unimportant and avoid exaggeration. Discretio was thought to be for the soul what the eye is for the body: a source of light and illumination.

In the series named Caves in non-existing mountains (63,5 x 60,5 cm, oil on veneer) we are presented with an imagined cave opening eight times in varying lights and atmospheres. The cave’s opening is a postulated entity, an imagined passage between us and something on the outside, between the enveloped and the exposed, between the very close and the very far away. If you step forward in the imagined cave, towards the painting, in order to take a look at the view outside, you may notice that there is yet another constant in the paintings: the profile of a real mountain called Hovdejordsnuten (Telemark). The same soft profile can be seen through all the cave openings, as if depicted at different times of the year, in a careless light, with a distracted gaze, at dusk or at dawn, or in a state of mourning.

The elaborate pattern in Labyrinth/Walker (100 x 100 cm, oil on canvas) is a depiction of an imaginary meandering through the map of the maze, which is painted on a wall of the medieval church in Seljord. The backdrop of the painting has the weight and the depth of the night sky; the footprints are hesitant, somnambulistic, pulsing like the flight of the firefly.

The purity of the heart and The pure heart is stylised in two oil paintings on plexiglas (160 x 100 cm) in which the heart symbol is utterly abstracted and surrounded by a visualised pulse. Above, the titles are scribbled as by fingers on a wall, like in the Norse tradition of refreshing soot black walls with chalk ornaments. The struggle for the pure heart continues. Like the ancient chalk paintings, the purity of the heart is in constant need of being painted anew.