‘The Clouds of the Realms Above’ art exhibition
On 26 October, an exhibition featuring 19 illustrations created by Anthony Zemke will be held at Studio One Toi Tū in Auckland. For exhibition visitors, Anthony shares some background:
The poem, “The Clouds of the Realms Above”, “Rashḥ-i-‘Amá”, was written by Bahá’u’lláh in 1852 in the Síyáh-Chál prison in Persia, known as Iran today. Bahá’u’lláh recounts:
During the days I lay in the prison of Ṭihrán, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.
The poetic reflection of that experience, as conveyed in “The Clouds of the Realms Above”, can perhaps never be adequately rendered into another language or depiction, yet the illustrations and present translation shown in this collection attempt to impart a glimpse of its power and momentous themes.
In its essence, the work professes a token of the all-encompassing mercy, the loving providence of our Creator and the Heavenly Realms above. With a desire to release the creative power instilled in these words, each of the poem’s stanzas has been transformed into a visual analogy which reflects, with pure intent, the potency of all things divine.
Upon reflection on the meaning and intent of each passage, a visual journey ensued where I found myself with no preconceived notion, no pencil nor plan, drawing out my understanding of Bahá’u’lláh’s words in an altered state of consciousness. Some people may find these illustrations comforting and mystical, whereas others may observe them to be nonsensical and bereft of any power or meaning.
Neither opinion is superior or wrong, however I encourage those who view them to try closing one eye to this world with the intent of opening one eye to another world: the realm of mysteries,... as you never know what you may find.
For more information, see the exhibition Facebook page.