December 30th, 2013
Sabina is a soul with broad interest for many arts. She currently presents herself through the visual, having her work described with terms such as Fantasy and Surrealistic. With her rational and creative mind, she challenges the audience to break out of what she calls ‘loops’, repetitive ways to respond to situations. I am staying at her house in Vienna. Being around her is losing the sense of time. Day and night flow into each other and lose their grip on me. She has inspired me in writing. It’s almost midnight when we move to her atelier, and I start taking notes. While we talk, her son Christopher unleashes a cascade of photographic clicks, taken from any angle you could imagine. His constant movement and effort for the proper picture are impossible to ignore but they quickly become an appreciable part of the setting, Sabina’s life.
I’d like to let her paintings guide our conversation. She gladly explains them in more depth. We start with the Divine Fury, because that one hangs in the permanent collection of the Viennese Museum Für Phantastische Künste. It is also one of my favourites. It represents a goddess of vengeance. The painting is the first in a set of three, which together show a chronological story. They express female resistance against those who disturb the natural order. Though fury itself may appear negative, it is in fact an important thing. Goddesses of vengeance have been painted regularly since the Medieval Age, but they were historically depicted as ugly, because male painters perceived female goddesses that way. But the anger they possess exists with just reason. If you suppress the divine, there will be a reaction.
The Divine Fury shows a personification of the ancient wisdom that existed long before the emergence of religion. Her hair is tied to the tree of knowledge, this woman is knowledge herself. Weak men demonize women of knowledge. They represented women either pure as a muse, or as the devil herself. The bloodsuckers on the body of the woman on Divine Fury represent those who attempt to capture her energy. The burning cross on the background represents the burning of the witches. Wise female’s voices were violently silenced, sometimes even with mortal methods.
“So, she has all the reason to be mad…” I say
“Wouldn’t you be?” Sabina looks at me with a slight flame in her eye.
“Write that down!” – commands Christopher.
In Fury Rising, the second painting, the goddess breaks out to restore the natural order. It combats strong players who prey on fragile young beings. It removes the sources of mass delusion we are currently dealing with in society. The trash that is being sent upwards in the background represents the cleaning of the place when fury comes in action. There’s a medusa head statue on the background which is crying. From her tears grow roses. It is a renewal.
Sabina says that she was far less passionate to paint the third painting, but it had to be done to complete the story. It shows the fury as a content, blissful being. The pools have a male and a female figure in them. They are in balance. When everything is in order, there is no reason for fury. The painting is an important part of the story, because it shows what the fury strives to.
When I ask Sabina if these paintings also represent aspects of herself she answers that they have nothing to do with an internal conflict. She explains that she chose to build her own career so that she doesn’t have to deal with the crap society has gathered throughout the years. From a distance it is easier to see what others are facing in their daily lives. These paintings are about women setting the angry part of themselves free. Women’s drive for justice is not as hideous as has been framed for ages. That’s easier to see if you are not part of it. She tries to represent that in such a way that people understand it.
When I ask her if she ever felt angry while painting she answers she was all the time. She was the fury. Sabina becomes that which she paints. The emotional charge was highest during the first painting. Most of the emotions happened inside, invisible to others, but sometimes a spark of anger would come out. It was exhausting for her. After finishing the first painting, she realised that she had to paint a few more. She apologized to her family in advance. During Fury Rises, she repeatedly listened to the same song; hating the haters by Niereich, not something she would usually listen to. When she finally got to the third painting, there was no fury left.
We move on to the Privileged Lovers. The title was based on a poem with the same title by the mystic poet Jelaluddin Rumi. It is about love without ego or games. It’s about giving yourself to each other without fear. An alternate title is The Quintessence, the place where the gods reside. I ask her if such love can last, she answers yes. She explains that a funny chain of events led to her painting this. She had started writing an essay about love with the mission to demythologize it and unveil the illusions poured over people’s hearts and eyes. She was ready to give up on the quest for the perfect other even if she had thus far always very strongly believed in it. While she started the essay in the belief that she had read too many fairy tales in her youth, she explains that fate set things up to change her mind. She didn’t want to finish the story. She first painted the Immortal Quest, which is essentially about the never-ending search for egoless love. After that, she painted the Privileged Lovers.
In this case she didn’t experience the love while painting, but something similar, seeing the potential. When asked, she says this kind of feeling cannot exist when you’re on your own. You can experience many other beautiful experiences while alone, but this one needs the meeting of Yin and Yang. She does not believe that just any two humans can reach it. Each one would have to be quite evolved. If either of the two has too much ego, that gets in the way, and then it is not possible to give yourself completely.
I ask her if she has tips on how to encounter such love. She answers that more important than finding the right match is to be the individual that can establish this kind of connection. If you find the one, but you are not ready, you might wrongly conclude that he or she is not who you are looking for. To become that individual who can recognize such a connection is a quest on itself. It is very blissful.
We move on to the final painting, Sub specie Aeternitatis. The title was a word invented by Spinoza, meaning “from the point of view of eternity”. The unique feature of this painting is that there are two versions: one with the foreground scene, and one without. The one without is called Aeternitas, eternity.
The background represents the hall of lives. It is the perspective where you overlook them all. Sabina believes in reincarnation. She has always lived her life from the point of view of eternity. Eternity is now for her. From the point of view of eternity, every moment matters. Living in the now means not to dwell too much in the past, nor to focus on the future all the time. If you’re always in the moment and make all choices from this point of view, every moment brings something important. You either give everything you have, or you learn something new. Sabina enjoyed painting this, because it meant being in the space of eternity, believing she could stay in that hall forever. Paint that from now on.
The woman on the foreground is a traveller. She is living her life from the perspective of eternity. Carpe diem, carpe noctem, carpe vitam. That’s Sabina’s motto. Seize every moment of our entire life. Seize life itself. By leaving the woman out in Aeternitas, Sabina stressed that this is not just a personal thing, but a choice anybody can make.
There are plenty of details left to discover in Sabina’s paintings, but I stop writing down her words. We spend another few hours talking. Christopher goes to sleep. We watch a film, then talk some more.