When someone sees a hole they want to get inside it. That is how the prehistoric caves were discovered.

Playing children who find themselves in front of a crevice pull aside the branches and brambles and crawl in. Inside, in the so-called bowels of the earth, rock paintings on the damp walls take us back to our ancestors who stretch out a blackened hand to us, fingers widespread. Thus, the prehistoric travels through time and becomes the contemporary. When we come across a hole the urge is always the same; we are drawn to it, we want to step forward, give ourselves up to it, lose ourselves even to reach out, to discover the mystery.

TIBETAN SUN, too, entices us to enter, if only mentally, something that has always been the easiest and at the same time, the most difficult thing to do. Michael A. Esbin places his sun on a plinth, a granite pedestal reinforced with a heavy steel plate. Bear in mind that this sun weighs a ton and a half so it has to be stable (like all suns) and most important of all, it must not topple onto the person looking at it.

Here is his creation; imagined, sculpted, smoothed for months on end in the dusty workshop in Carrara, You walk around it, so to speak, because we are all well aware that most of us just walk through this marble circle, trying hard to go unnoticed of course! Like a fish small enough to slip through the net, like an eye peeping through a key-hole, like a lion leaping through a ring of fire, like a train in a tunnel, like the head of a condemned person in a noose, like whatever you want, and why not, like a finger in a wedding ring.

According to the philosopher (Jean-Paul Sartre, without mentioning names because he took the idea from others, and here we name Kierkegaard) a circle that surrounds emptiness, (nothingness), becomes a circle precisely because of this nothingness which, therefore, is not nothing, If that is so, then what is it? Answer: it is the very same essence that gives its meaning to the circle, which then, and only then, comes into existence, the whole thing curving over itself, the eternal beginning and the eternal end. A circle and its encircled nothingness. The being and the essence (the mother and the father) are thus bound intimately, existentially. Being and nothingness in philosophical terms are at the heart of what we call life.

We slip on the wedding band – or more simply – the ring, and in doing so we fill a vacuum. Like nature, we are terrified of nothingness. Please, no silence, no emptiness, no nothingness. This scares us; fill it as quickly as we can. All of a sudden, in the case of the ring filling the vacuum becomes the act of plunging into the essence, of drowning in it. Since we are not philosophers, we would say it becomes the act of plunging into the essential to be subjected by it and so possibly, to be free.

Except that a hole that has been filled is no longer a hole. The essence will be filled, the aim achieved, the work completed. We have consumed it. It is done. We exist. Art has done its duty and now art can go away. But what about the circle? It does not move, it does not change. It will seek (and find) another vacuum, another nothingness that with time will not fail to create itself. The being is so strong that it will persist and survive.

I am not sure whether Michael sees his TJBETAN SUN this way or not but as he has invited us to look at it, let’s do it. Now it is our turn to create, to be and to be born. So I go in, I take my fill of essence and I leave from the other side, a different person, a new person in possession of a mystery that has given me strength, a new energy.

Is this art? Add the details and they will all follow the same direction. The sun in the sky like that of the northern Celts, bright and golden on a small cart. To the eye it presents itself in a single dimension, a circular disc. But in our case it is not like this at all. Indeed, we ask ourselves how its maker dares to call it a sun! Yet it shines. And it turns with the movement created by the “tunnels” in the marble, with the grooves that run its length and snake along the inside of the hole towards the sky, going somewhere else and losing themselves one by one, only to be reincarnated further down. A kind of “perpetual mobile” as (little) realistic as the sun that once went round the earth – until a few heretics with a keen eye that saw a long way, convinced us of their new heliocentric truth, the real truth, alas!

Then we can also admire the colors in the marble, all those wonderful nuances of the marble that continues to crystallize under our feet as it has been doing for so many millions of years. Because we have to dwell on the details as well and apparently it is also beauty that makes art…

The artist candidly tells us what does not exist; the impossible. His TIBETAN SUN moves in front of us. It revolves on the spot. And we quite calmly penetrate its circle only to realize that the other side is the same side. It is only the observer, the penetrator who changes. He emerges enriched, dizzy and happy. It is a game, nothing but a simple game, of life or death. Like in Tibet, you could say! A game that consists of rising above yourself, going into the essence, the paradoxical nothingness that gives life. The only path to being – ours and that of others. Thank you, Michael.

Jacques Berg

February 2006