Copyright © 2019 Antonio Forte

circles & squares

The Circle, the Square, and You

 

The Circle:

 

     The word circle comes from the Greek kirkos, meaning hoop, ring, or circuit—things that revolve or spin. The circle is perhaps the most prevalent shape in our universe: the sun, moon, and stars all appear as circles. When we speak, our mouths are circles; when we greet each other or hold conversation, we look into each other's eyes—which are circles. Our planet is a circle moving in a circuit (ellipse) around the sun; our Milky Way galaxy is spinning through the universe, itself a circle. In the Japanese tradition of Zen Buddhism the circle, or ensō, symbolizes enlightenment, strength, balance, as well as the universe and mu (Chinese wu), which means not-universe (not or nothing). The circle encompasses everything. The circle encompasses nothing. However, the empty space inside is the same as the empty space outside, and in the case of Zen calligraphy, the circle itself is often left open on one end, drawn or painted in a single (purposefully purposeless) and unintentional gesture, to emphasize the significance and interconnectedness of what is within and without of this seeming boundary. Everything is Nothing. Nothing is Everything.

 

The Square:

 

     The word square comes from the Latin quadrare, meaning to set in order or complete. Hence the square being a very rigid and organized symbol. In this growing age of technology, our lives seem to be governed by these squares: television and computer screens, the latest smart phone that you're probably staring at every few seconds. As you drive home you're looking out the windows at the oncoming traffic through the mirrors—all of which are squares. Communities revolve around and sprawl out from the town square. The windows on our houses. The houses themselves. The paintings on the walls of the gallery. The gallery itself. The square may also come to symbolize life itself: a metaphor for the ups and downs, each followed by a period of steadiness, clunking and rolling around over and over again. And here, the square is the circle. The circle is the square.

 

You:

 

     Pick a painting. This will be where you begin. Choose any path you like, visiting each piece in any order and as often as you like. When you feel it is time, return to where you started. As you view each painting, a story unfolds—you are both the viewer and author of this imaginative journey. But, the story may wiggle and wind its way in any direction, until it comes full circle, back to square one, only to have changed its meaning entirely (...or maybe not) when you return to where you began.