MUSEUM OF STILLNESS
According to Makarov, the time has come for fine art to achieve one of its oldest objectives: drawing beholders into contemplation and thus bringing them into contact with the spiritual aspects of the self. The renowned patron of the arts and Museum of Stillness supporter, Prof. Dr. Peter Raue speaks of a ‘secularised meditation room’ in the midst of Berlin’s lively Mitte district.
The yearning for quietude, reflection and calm is no mere contemporary phenomenon but rather as old as humankind itself. Maintaining silence served as a philosophical discipline as early as the sixth century BC in the school of Pythagoras. The desire for stillness became so great that protected spaces for quietude with atmospheric surroundings started to be created. The churches and temples of this world clearly manifested this idea.
“The idea of the Museum started to develop in the beginning of the 90ties. I was often told that my paintings radiate a particular stillness and that there should be a place where they would be permanently available for viewing. Such requests encouraged me to find a space in Berlin. It took over a year to prepare the rooms and in 1994 the opening of the Museum of Stillness took place. At that time Berlin was going through radical changes, the city was a one big construction site and the Museum served as an alternative to all this chaos.“
– Nikolai Makarov
Artists seized upon this concept and began making their contributions toward the endeavor: Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Mark Rothko and Henri Matisse, who further built upon this idea, joining the presentation of their works with a purpose toward inner reflection. The resulting spaces and their carefully conceived environments bestow the beholder with the spiritual energy and sublimity of each creation.
The clamor of this world is unsuited for reaching our deepest yearnings. Silence is moving; it creates the space for inner reflection, for inner dialogue. Thoughts such as those concerning the meaning of life or an acceptance of self are allowed to take their courses. It provides one with the possibility of freeing oneself from the bondage of anxieties, emotional chaos, fear and self-doubt.
The large-format paintings by Nikolai Makarov – foggy cloudscapes and landscape fragments often veiled in dusky sepia tones – and his modified spaces through their intense colorfulness, serve as optical and spatial reinforcement. These are complimented further by his sparing yet pointed use of lighting to achieve an altogether unique atmosphere. However, above all, it is the paintings that radiate a meditative aura and appear with a sense of timelessness and intimacy, lending harmony to the space—a wholeness in the Jungian sense and, therewith, a fusion of the finite and the infinite.
Over the past twenty years the concept of the Museum has been further developed and in 2014 chosen architects were invited to create free architectural structures, with the only guideline, to provide a place for a single piece of art inside.
“In each case, way-finding architecture leads the beholder to the piece displayed. Within the solitude of the chamber, visitors are provided with an opportunity for pausing and gathering their thoughts, enabling them to enter into constructive dialogue with the quietude; to feel and experience the stillness; to become aware of its sounds; to become enthralled by it, learn to bear it or express uneasiness over it. Subconscious feelings and the power of imagination are awakened through an ‘aura of invisibly present silence’ (Jan Hoet).“
– Jürgen Schilling
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Museum of Silence