That Spiritual Need

Robert Filliou


Mixed Media
Materials: ink, paper, wood

Collection: Private Collection, Antwerp.

With the years Filliou became more attracted to meditation, Taoism and Buddhism. At the same time, he addresses the themes of violence and innocence, war and peace.

Excerpt of the conversation between Robert Filliou (RF) and Irmeline Lebeer (IL), Flayosc, France, August 1976.

IL: Do you have a definition for That Spiritual Need, maybe?

RF: It’s quite simple. These are works to be used in a bodily way. For example a thing you shake or hold in front of yourself. The goal is to have a spiritual liberation, if you need it. Therefore the title: That Spiritual Need. I don’t know how many times Mr Azagouri, an architect from Casablanca who acquired this work, will hold this in front of him at arm’s length, as Marcelle is doing. That depends on his needs. Maybe after a while it will be enough for him, like it is for me, to leave it in a corner and to know that we can use it when we need it.

IL: What does it say?

RF: I can’t really read it now: ‘Hold at arm’s length and concentrate on something.’

IL: And the thing itself is in colour?

RF: Yes, the photo should be in colour. There’s maybe some green fabric glued on it. That I think is sticky tape. Something is written on it.

IL: But could it have been any object? It’s not specially conceived…

RF: No, it couldn’t have been just anything: it has the quality you give it as the user. In that sense I agree that whatever object would do the job. But the work is this particular thing, not some other one.

IL: I suppose there are Zen painters who have painted forms that help… You also use circles, for example.

RF: It’s the physical use of an object that responds to a spiritual need. We can imagine it’s a cane. That often represents a physical need, and in certain cases it could correspond to a spiritual need. I made only very few of these: two or three maybe. I’ve brought out the photos so that you have them, because that helps ‘That Spiritual Need’…

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