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A few words about Jan's painting, "Sophia" and his series "Gnostic Journey"
Some 30 paintings and material works belong to the series Jan refers to as "Gnostic Journey". Most of these works do not refer to any specific Gnostic/Christian story, myth or person, but convey Gnostic themes and world views, such as emptying, exile, a nomadic existence, being in the presence of (or containing in oneself) something divine, – a divine spark.
In his art Jan seeks to articulate something about the sacred that from time to time shines through and appears in the world, of the divine that surrounds us. In his paintings strange light sources light up the rooms otherwise covered in dark dramatic shadows. The divine is immanent, to be found as traces of the sublime in our urban, everyday life. To Jan art is closely connected with our spiritual dimension.
The guiding lines of ancient Gnostic myths are “the Fall from the Pleroma and the reconstruction of primordial unity”. Sophia (Greek, “wisdom”), the lowest of the aeons “experiences a fall that brings the material universe and the demiurge into being. She is then restored, at least partially, to her former position by an aeon who may be known as the Savior.”
According to Norwegian scholar, Tor Kaare Kvaal, in his unfinished manuscript (pre 1994), Gnostic mythology (as well as Simonian mythology) contains five “mandatory” phases:
1. The pre-existence of and emergence of a spiritual universe; 2. Creation as a cosmic error; 3. The incarceration and humiliation of the human soul that belongs with God; 4. The rescuing of the human soul by the saviour; 5. The termination of the created world.
Seeing Jan's painting in the light of these myths will surely open up some doors to understanding his art better, but it is not prerequisite for enjoying the painting "Sophia" just as it is - a beautiful, well composed painting executed by a true master of the medium.
You can read more about gnostic themes in Jan's art in the following articles:
Ruth Weisberg: "Jan Valentin Saether. The Light Divided". In: Burning Lights. Spirituality, Tradition and Craft in Recent Art from the City of Angels, exhibition catalogue Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University ... et al., Los Angeles 1994.