(Self) Knowledge Is Power


Not all knowledge (image source: http://www.leahsblessings.com)


All my life I have always been curious and even if I may not have always come across as the quintessential person with a lust for life always oozing bucketloads of positive energy, I have always been greedy for experiences and knowledge. I have retained much of my curiosity since day one but what about the root of my thirst for knowledge? Well I suppose it goes hand in hand with my curiosity and a mind traditionally never still and corrupted by ferocious restlessness and obsessions. When I was growing up in the 80s and part of the 90s before the internet entered our homes, I used to pester my mum relentlessly to purchase for me an encyclopaedia whenever we were shopping in town. By the time I was about 10 I had about 5 different encyclopaedias. Anybody remember Dean Tell Me The Answer? I had one of those bad boys. Before my profound interest in music entered my life when I was 12, studying my encyclopaedias, painting, tennis and collecting precious stones occupied most of my leisure time. No aimless Facebook and YouTube video trawling. I even once created my own encyclopaedia which I entered for a school competition and won the grand first prize of three English pounds.

From the age of 12 to 19 music almost had the monopoly on my total interests and I lapped up so much of it new and old; more than my brain could handle. Then at university I had a good friend who got me interested in good quality films and then a year later I became interested in literature. Even though I was taught certain literature at school, I was seldom interested or inspired by what I was taught.

Yet the big quantum leap in my thirst for knowledge began ten years ago at the age of 23 when I travelled by myself to Morocco for two weeks. That trip was the catalyst for a life long interest in travelling and exploring the world. I have spent so much of my time since then travelling and learning about different countries and cultures. My knowledge and understanding of the world was so much more myopic before my interest in travelling began.

However these last few years I have begun to question the concept of knowledge and what it means. For too long I arrogantly took to my bosom the phrase that ‘Knowledge Is Power’. Now whenever I see this quote in public places, I feel so inclined to brandish one of those spray cans and to add the word ‘Self’ before the word ‘Knowledge’. I have acquired all this bountiful knowledge but what use is it when my level of self-knowledge is next to zero? I had spent so much of my time looking out but how much had I really spent looking in. I liked to think that I was this deep person but deep down (no pun!) I was kidding myself. There’s this well known cliche about travelling to find yourself, yet I’d been travelling in many ways because I was afraid of myself and dealing with reality and society. I had learnt so much about many different countries, their histories and cultures and even though I had zig zagged across enormous swathes of the world I could seldom bring myself to search and explore myself. It is interesting how after a long time abroad, many travellers return to their home countries feeling lost, confused, depressed and out of synch with the rhythm and flow of their external environment. I believe most of the root of this is the great disconnection within themselves. I don’t believe it’s just because of their home countries being so different to the countries they visit. If you truly know yourself, you by extension are able to understand better other people regardless of their position in society: whether they are accountants, magicians, lawyers, painters, computer programmers, musicians, billionaires or beggars – this doesn’t matter. If you barely know yourself you will struggle to see beneath the facade of others. You will always become affected and a slave to other people’s behaviour: perhaps many times playing the victim role as opposed to taking more responsibility of your life.

Yet the journey in getting to know yourself is no pleasure cruise. Especially if you are always in constant fear of yourself. Yet this fear can be transcended. With the guidance of a good therapist or healer (preferably someone who has experienced all these challenges and overcame them) then this journey can truly begin. But they can only be your guide or facilitator. They cannot be a rescuer or saviour – there can be no dependence as with dependence there can be no true awakening.


By Nicholas Peart

4th September 2016

(all rights reserved)

PAINTINGS (March – June 2016)

I’ve just returned back to London after having been away in South Africa for five months. For much of the last two months of my time over there, I travelled around large swathes of the country and many of my last blog posts detail my travel experiences over there.

Yet for the first few months of my time in South Africa I was based in the Western Cape, where I spent much of that time working on my latest series of paintings. Below I am enclosing images of the fruits of my creative labour (put your back into boy! – hahaha) which I am enclosing underneath this post.

If you would like to view more images of my work please visit my official art website at: http://www.nicholaspeart.com





Life On Pluto (2016), oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm





Straight To Hell (2016), oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm 





Frozen Meta Collective Unconscious Lives And Past Lives (2016), oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm





In The Next Life (2016), oil on canvas, 70 x 55cm





Enigma (2016), oil on canvas, 70 x 55cm





Funeral Pyres Of Fantastic Disguise (2016), oil on canvas, 40 x 32cm





Secret Lives (2016), oil on canvas, 70 x 55cm





Sun Poles (2016), oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm



(All images and works above by Nicholas Peart)

(All rights reserved)

Embracing Sensitivity


Soap ball

I am a very sensitive person. That is who I am. But sometimes I felt that this was not accepted by others. I would hear some say, ‘you are too sensitive’ or ‘stop being so sensitive’. Perhaps this comes from people wanting you to conform more to their standards of who they want you to be. And when you display characteristics or behaviour which goes beyond the boundaries of who they want you to be, this creates problems. I know this from experience. There are people, for example, who I love and who have certain traits and characteristics which make me love them even more. But then they may also display traits which I don’t . For example this person might be too loud, brash and opinionated. Here though, it is me with the problem and not this person, since I cannot accept those traits. I cannot accept that these traits are a part of who this person is and it is me who is in fact creating new problems for myself. With a greater level of awareness, I would immediately realise that there is something that I need to work on, explore in greater depth and get to the root of.

So to get back to the issue of ‘being too sensitive’. You are very sensitive but this is fine. That is an important part of who you are. Those who say that you are too sensitive are unable to accept you for who you are. Perhaps because they cannot accept themselves and, looking into this more deeply, there may be a deep repression, frustration and disconnection within themselves. If you have this awareness, than the initial annoyance which you have towards the person telling you that you are too sensitive morphs into compassion. Think about this for a moment.

The writer Matt Haig has a chapter in his wonderful book Reasons To Stay Alive entitled ‘In praise of thin skins’ where he talks about being ‘thin skinned’ but saying that that is just the way he is. Instead of fighting it and being ashamed of it he accepts and embraces it saying that that is who he is. I find such an attitude very inspiring and also helpful. This is wise and healing advice to those trapped in doubt and confusion.

Below I am featuring a six minute video of the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s take on sensitivity. Love him or hate him he explains sensitivity very eloquently in this video. All of us are born sensitive but we have much of our sensitivity knocked out of us sometimes by our parents who, for example, tell us to ‘stop crying’, by our environment at school and in our work environment. Much of our sensitivity (and, by extension, much of who we truly are) is compromised as we try to ‘fit in’ in this world.

In the wake of watching the video I begin to accept my sensitivity even more and realise that it is more of a gift (not meaning this in a conceited way) than something to be ashamed of and suppressed. What’s more, I realise that real sensitivity in this world is in short supply. There is most definitely a link between art and sensitivity. Picasso once famously said that every child is born an artist yet the real challenge is to remain an artist. Every child comes into this world an artist just as every child comes into this world a very sensitive being (as I stated earlier). Yet why do so many children have their creativity and sensitivity knocked out of them at an early age? This is mostly out of fear than the parents being ‘bad’ people. The parents are most likely already struggling and see security and certainty as the tools to keep their life trajectory very much on the smooth and well travelled road. They may also not really know themselves, but that is another area for probing another time. Forsaking the ten lane highway for some obscure and seldom trodden dirt track is a shot into the unknown and an extra dose of uncertainty and challenge in an already challenging world.

So be glad that you are a sensitive. If only there were more of us.


by Nicholas Peart

30th July 2016

(All rights reserved)


Image: CC0 Creative Commons

Spiritual Coding and Self Discovery: An Exploration Of My Paintings


Magma Matter Execution (2012) by Nicholas Peart


I am often asked by people to explain my paintings. ‘What are they about?’ is a common question. For a long time I found it difficult to translate the meaning of my paintings into words since the process is very personal and involves deep introspection. When people did ask the question I invariably gave them the reply, ‘My feelings. I paint my feelings’. This is one of the most succinct and sincere ways of explaining the meaning of my paintings yet I often felt that such a response just didn’t wash with some people.

All of my inspiration comes from within; through journeys into the deep chambers of my eternal, spiritual and immortal being. This is the part of me that is really me. The truth. In Hinduism and Buddhism this part of the self is known as atman. Yet often I feel very separated from this as I am immersed in the external environment of this life; a player on a stage where much of the cast has been programmed to be increasingly separated from their true being.

When I am immersed in the deep meditative process of painting, I feel increasingly connected with my true eternal being. It almost feels like it’s not me painting but my spirit. In my most inspired and transcendental moments of the painting process it is my eternal spirit which guides me. In these moments there is no chasm between my conscious and my unconscious. Being in this state makes me think of some of the earliest prehistoric civilisations. Back then, the world was a much less complex and complicated place to the one it is today. Especially the time before words. I think of the San rock art paintings found across parts of Southern Africa and Aboriginal rock art paintings from Australia. The San people of Southern Africa and the Aboriginal people of Australia fascinate me greatly since their culture goes back tens of thousands of years. But what’s more, their culture is profoundly spiritual and this can be seen clearly in their art; their oneness with the world and nature, and their high levels of awareness. In many ways it’s their lives and methods of working which inspire me just as much as the work itself, because of their deep spirituality.



San rock art – Cederberg, South Africa


One thing that the San and Aboriginal people have in common is that much of their land is vast desert. For many people such a terrain is inhospitable and lonely; especially if one is very separated from themselves. In this state of being such a person would very quickly find the desert intolerable and isolating. It’s almost like the desert richly rewards those who are spiritually connected (and by extension at one with it) and makes life a living hell for those who are detached from their eternal soul. With a higher state of consciousness the desert begins to truly reveal itself. In a sense my paintings are like deserts, which only become alive as one becomes more connected with themselves. And this is sometimes a great problem I encounter as to some people my paintings appear quite alien and foreign to them. I fully expect this and it does not offend me when people openly tell me that they don’t understand them. My paintings are interactions with the spiritual world and these interactions take place during the painting process. One could then argue that in order to get to the core of my work it would be essential to observe me as I paint. You can do this and you can even do this without me being aware of being observed. But to really understand the processes would involve fully connecting with all levels of my consciousness.



Wadjina Aboriginal rock art – Kimberly, Australia


I find that the paintings of the American artist Don Van Vleit (better known as Captain Beefheart) have much in common with the art of those early prehistoric civilisations. What’s also interesting is that when Van Vleit retired from making music and dedicated himself fully to painting in the early 1980s, he lived in a remote part of Northern California. And by immersing oneself in his work one can see the deep connection. Like the San and Aboriginal people, his true spiritual home was in nature. The place where his true being could glow white hot. Take him out of this environment and plop him in a studio in New York, London or Berlin, he would be like a flower without water.



                                        Crepe And Black Lamps (1986) by Don Van Vliet


I like to call my painting technique Spiritual Coding. In the digital world in which we currently live the word coding is used a lot. This of course refers to computer programming. A language for this age. And when I look at my paintings I am also using my own language. A language created through interacting with my ‘inner being’ and this I call Spiritual Coding. My paintings are in many ways remnants of this. Tangible photographs almost of my eternal spirit. Although they don’t capture the processes of my work they are residue formations of intense spiritual journeying and internal searching.



A Winter In Crowland (2008) by Nicholas Peart


Remaining on the subject of Spiritual Coding, symbols are important in my paintings. The American artist Philip Guston created his own unique symbols, language and world. Even if his world was very bleak and one of hardcore isolation. A dystopian spirituality. But through connecting with his paintings one can see that he embraced this insurmountable at-sea pain and isolation. Works offering no hope or salvation. For the majority of people (including myself) such a level of alienation would be intolerable and very difficult to embrace and accept. But it’s amazing how secure Guston seems to be in this vacuum. And that’s what makes his paintings very striking, visceral and distinct. They are pure undiluted archives of raw pain. I think of Van Gogh and how, even though he was often in the grip of profound sadness and anxiety, he produced some of the most beautiful paintings of all time. Yet Guston’s paintings are anything but beautiful. He was not looking to turn pain into beauty. He was more interested in turning pain into more pain. The painter Francis Bacon is the closest artist to Guston in this respect. Merciless insatiable masochists. Perhaps there is absolutely nothing of the spiritual in Guston’s work and he was always an enigma to himself but his comfort in the most acute thresholds of pain and loneliness is epic.



Painter’s Form II (1978) by Philip Guston


Luck and chance play enormous roles in my paintings. My soul brothers here are the painters Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon. And like them I never make sketches or engage in preliminary studies. And why would I? After all this is completely against my way of working and, more significantly, my raison d’être. I can’t plan what I am going to paint. If luck and chance weren’t integral parts of the painting process, I don’t think I would ever paint. Uncertainty is extremely important.



                                                                           Jackson Pollock 


The work of both Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon have their own unique and idiosyncratic qualities yet what unites them is their spontaneity. But there’s a more important quality which unites them and that is their energy. Wild, untamed, animal energy. Free of even the most minute inhibition. The primal way Pollock dripped paint and the ferocious and feral way Bacon attacked the canvas. Almost like a serial axe murderer taking a swing at his next victim. I can relate to this (not the axe murderer) since in much of my work when I first apply paint to the canvas either with a brush or a palate knife I literally lunge at it and let my inner self do the work. And sometimes I get so exhausted by the end of this process I need to rest.



                                                                            Francis Bacon


I am still on my journey of self discovery. And as explained earlier in the text, I am just as conditioned and influenced by my external environment as any other being yet when I am painting I am far away from this external environment since painting enables me to get closer to the truth; of myself and the world


by Nicholas Peart

23rd May 2016

(All rights reserved)


My work can be found by visiting my website; http://www.nicholaspeart.com