Paintings El fuego de la paz

‘El fuego de la paz’
Eelko van Iersel
Size: (8x) 55 x 55 cm
Material: oil paint and sand on canvas
Price: available on request | Art gallery Zeven Zomers

In the summer of 2011 artist Eelko van Iersel was invited to attend the Saltcreek Sundance* in Indiana (USA). During this ‘Native American sundance’ dancers honor the Great Spirit by singing and praying with everybody, regardless of race or religion. It is a ceremony with which the power and holiness of life and nature are being honored in the circle. The circle, without beginning or end, symbolizes unity and holiness of the universe. The dance takes place in the circle with four wind directions (East, South, West and North) and the connection with the Earth and Sky.

During this ceremony Eelko received a small bundle from a medicine woman. This bundle has elements that were carefully selected. Every bundle has a seed of a birch tree, cedar from the holy tree of the Ojibwa (female energy), bark from a tree that was hit by a strike of lightning (male energy) and a charcoal of the peace fire. This peace fire has its origin at the University of Chicago and is being spread all over the world for numerous years now by putting new bundles together from the charcoals that come out of the fires in which the original bundles were used. This way the message of peace is being spread. In the summer of 2012 I held a peace fire on the beach at the river Waal.

Eelko finds it very inspiring to use some of the selected charcoals in his paintings. He sees it as a way to let the energy of the peace fire be part of a creation that can bring peace. Out of this concept the series ‘El fuego de la paz’ arised: 8 paintings measuring 55 x 55 cm. The artist build up these paintings with several layers of sand and different types of paint. This makes a relief that in some places looks like cracks in the soil of a dry riverbed. The artist paints without a brush and applies the paint straight onto the canvas with his hands. The imagination of the spectator is stimulated at the sight of the organic colored surfaces and compositions. Partly because of this, the spectator recognizes images and memories come to shape. So concrete representations arise in paintings that are originally non-figurative.

A number of paintings from this series are already sold, the paintings that are still available are displayed during exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad.

At the prayer for a vision the individual gets in touch with the supernatural, when the tribe does this as a whole, this happens at the sundance. The sundance is the highest expression of the Lakota nation. It is the most complex ceremony and the only ceremony that is linked to the calendar The ceremony is held in the middle of the summer when tribe members come together. The ceremony takes eight days: four days of preparation and four days of dancing. During the preparations the arbor gets build up, it is a circular covered arbor that houses the spectators and supporters during the ceremony. Essential are the singers with their drum.
The highlight of the preparations takes places on the third day when the arbor is almost finished. The medicine man that conducts the ceremony sends two scouts to go find a suitable cottonwood tree. When they find such a tree they inform the medicine man, who goes to the tree and prays to it with his holy pipe. Then the tree is being cut down by an axe that has never been used before.
The tree is put in the middle of the arbor in a hole that has been dug out before. Taking part in the sundance is possible in six different ways. One way is to cut a tiny piece of flesh from the body and sacrifice this. However the most common way is to pierce the skin of the chest with small wooden sticks and attach the dancer with a long string to the tree in the middle. Sometimes the same is being done on the back of a dancer but instead of being attached to the tree, they are attached to a couple of buffalo strings. While staring at the sun the dancers try to pull themselves loose from the tree or the skulls.
Taking part in a ceremony often gives the partaker visions. Well known in history is the vision that was revealed to the famous medicine man Sitting Bull, after taking part in a sundance, about what would take place several days later at Little Big Horn.

Take a look on the page paintings with all the paintings made by Eelko van Iersel.

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