As we end the commemoration that marked one of the worst and stupidest barbaric acts in human history, whereby millions of people killed each other in the name of illusory differences, it is, nonetheless, not pointless to remember that Art, for at least tens of thousands of years, has demonstrated on the contrary the unity of the human species, and the universality of the desire for beauty and meaning.
We have just received one more proof of this with the recent dating of artworks found in Borneo, evidencing the extraordinary similarity between these paintings, made more than 40 millennia ago in the cave of Lubang Jeriji Saleh (considered, at the moment, to be the oldest known figurative works in the world), and others that are a little more recent, found in the caves of Helle Fells in Germany, Monte Castillo in Spain, and Chauvet and Lascaux in France.
These are the works of various men, Denisovans, Neanderthals, or Sapiens, who had travelled by land and in a few decades, the ten thousand kilometres that then separated the Borneo French Auvergne. Moreover, in these distant places, they painted, in the same chronological order, abstract figures (which I consider to be labyrinths, metaphors of their nomadic conditions), hands, animal silhouettes, and human figures. Their work exhibits an incredible stylistic proximity. One can make the distinction, in each of them, as it is the case with us today, abstract painters and figurative painters. We may even discern different periods and changes of styles within the same period.
These works serve as a reminder that Eurasia is only one continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, travelled in all directions for tens of thousands of years by people with similar concerns, which were also evidently metaphysical. Nomads who viewed their travel on Earth as a metaphor for their journey between this world and the other worlds, from before birth to after death, a hopeful concept in which they desperately wanted to believe. They tried to communicate with other worlds through their rituals, which include what we today call works of art.
Without a doubt, it is not particularly about glorifying Europeans; we know that there are artistic and metaphysical legacies that are as powerful and perhaps even older, in Namibia and in South Africa. I am also convinced that we will discover the incredible proximity and the extraordinary dialogue between all these artistic events worldwide.
In turn, this will confirm, if we want to hear it, the universality and specificity of mankind: it will also give meaning to his passage on Earth. In a very real sense, traveling the planet and leaving the most personal and truest legacy that is possible.
Today, more than ever, we face the most vivid threats of an improbable victory of ugliness, falsity, artificiality and selfishness, lest we forget that we are first and foremost the heirs of a very long history of the beautiful, the true, the living and the universal.