“Leaving the Centre Empty” by Francis Lucille


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“One day I wanted to take painting lessons, and I paid a visit to an old engraver in France, who was also a painter.  He showed me his watercolours, and he told me:  ‘I have found out in my life, after having made many attempts, that a painting that works is one in which the light comes from the painting, from the centre of the painting;  in other words, where the true subject matter of the painting is light itself.’   Because light has no shape really, no colour.  It has no texture – like Consciousness.  So if you use light to describe Consciousness, light is the true subject of the painting.  That is one way to do it. 

“Or you can do it the Chinese way.  Because of the medium they used (which was different – ink and paper) – the true subject of their painting is not ‘light’ but space, emptiness;  so the objects in the composition are … Bonnard, the painter Bonnard used to say that a composition that works is one in which the centre of the painting is empty.  So everything revolves around it, and that is so beautiful because of the emptiness, you see?  What is IMPORTANT in the painting should be put at the centre , right? 

“So, if you leave the centre empty, it makes you feel free.

“Jean Klein told me once, he had observed also that it was very important for the painting to have some freedom on the right side, because we are so used to read from left to right;  you know that the left is for the past, and the right side is for the future.  So the eye wants to have the future OPEN towards the infinite.

“And there are Renaissance paintings, in which there is always an open door or an open window somewhere, through which, after you have entered into the painting – that is for figurative painting in Europe – you take a little trip, you know?  you stop here, and THERE, and there, and you discover …  But you need to be able to go out.   You know?  So this exit, this WAY OUT, this window suggests a way out towards the Infinite, towards your true nature.  So there are many ways through which a painter can suggest this …  that which he or she loves the most.  It can be space … it can be an opening … it can be also composition, there are many ways.  There is also the use of colour;  it can be LIGHT.  And it can also be any combination of these various things.

“Don’t make out of what I have told you a technique.  You understand?  But you could go to the National Gallery, or to the Tate Gallery, take a look at the Turners, the Rembrandts, you know, and see them in this light;  and FEEL in a Rembrandt, how love is everywhere in the form of light … and peace;  this meditative quality that is silent.  You can feel the SILENCE in a Rembrandt!    Rembrandt is known as a painter of silence and a painter of light, you see?  Find your own ways.  Always be true to your Self.”

“Instead of resting peacefully at the centre of the wheel and letting the wheel turn freely, we try to stop the wheel.  The centre of the wheel is always at rest, no matter how fast it revolves.  The centre of the wheel is empty.”



The birth of living things comes unperceived;  the death
comes unperceived;  between them, things perceive.

Bhagavad Gita Ch.2




One day, Francis said something about Death, which stayed with me always.  I felt my life is a little door, or surface. I can go through it, or slip off that plane, and dive like a whale.  Death is the vital All-of-Life embracing my vivid small surface dream which floats so gaily.   My centre of gravity shifted;  my perception took a right-angle turn.   It may have been when he said this:

“You have this pure consciousness.  At that moment, when this thought comes to an end, the thought that tries to catch consciousness,  it leaves you at the end of the thought, in a moment of understanding in which you are consciousness, without an object, in its purity.    That is the first step.   And then the experience is that this consciousness is the underlying reality of everything.   So then when the world appears again, and the body and the mind,  it is clearly understood —  or gradually understood —  that they arise out of consciousness,  exist in consciousness and disappear back into consciousness.   Their true nature,  their substance, is consciousness.  

“We think that things have their origin in time and their end in time, but it is not so.  They have their origin in God, and their end in God.   That is the meaning of the saying, I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA   — the beginning and the end of all things;  I AM CONSCIOUSNESS IS the beginning and the ending of all things.  

“And it is not in time.   It is immortal, timeless, eternal, and knows itself as such.   And it is this very consciousness hearing these words right now, that knows itself as such.  And it is precisely because it knows itself as such, that these words can be efficient, somehow, can resonate, can go through the various armours of the body and of the mind,  pierce all armours and go right to this intimate and sacred place that knows itself,  that knows its eternity.”





3 thoughts on ““Leaving the Centre Empty” by Francis Lucille

  1. Pingback: Tales from the Watershed: “House Life” | janeadamsart

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