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Feelings are nothing we need to do anything with – release or repress, contain or cathart, evacuate or expunge, fight or flee. The only thing we need ‘do’ with our feelings is to feel them. Feeling them, they reveal themselves as the surface of inner cognitions. To know ourselves and others we must first follow our feelings to their source in these inner cognitions. Followed and felt feelings become a source of revelatory inner knowing or gnosis. The fear of staying with, following and feeling our own feelings - rather than fighting or taking flight from them – finds expression in the fear of ‘purgatory’ – that place in which no escape from feelings, however painful, is possible, and in which we are forced to feel all those feelings we would rather not face. The fear of purgatory is the fear of being ‘overwhelmed’ by powerful feelings. In point of fact however, powerful feelings become all the more painful precisely to the extent that we avoid feeling them. ‘Feelings’ are something we ‘have’ and then wonder what ‘we’ should ‘do’ with. ‘Feeling’ is itself something we do. Not feeling our feelings we merely react to or reflect on them with our minds. But we can only feel feelings with our bodies. If we follow and feel our feelings with our bodies, they do not need to express themselves as emotional reactions to others. Instead they transform our sense of who ‘we’ and others are, letting us feel and ‘know’ ourselves and others in a direct bodily way. Feeling is our most basic medium of direct inner knowing or gnosis. According to Caspar David Friedrich, paintings too, must be "felt not invented." Uwe Nolte’s ‘Purgatory’ is a painting to be felt. Its colours and shapes do not ‘express’ feelings but reveal intrinsic colours and shapes, densities and intensities of feeling. The winged figure in the centre of the painting is no mere ‘foreground’ figure whose ‘inner’ feelings the painter then seeks to express in some ‘background’ field. Instead the figure is itself a configuration of the field - formed from its flowing and interweaving colours. The ‘feeld’ of pure, contrasting but interpenetrating colours is the purificatory fire (Fegefeuer) of ‘purgatory’. The female figure does not suffer a state of purgatorial pain but is portraryed in a posture of purgatorial repose. Her figure formed from the feeld of intensely felt colours - whilst at the same time actively drawing and giving form to them in her winged embrace.


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