Sumptuous, intricate, ornamented, my current paintings are richly referential – they call to mind a range of associations from mandalas, the cosmos, cells, lace, brocade and more. I align myself with the long tradition of geometric and floral ornamentation the Far East, the Middle East, the Byzantine and the Baroque have long employed. They did so with the implicit understanding that pattern and repetition, which are endemic in nature, are primal in their rhythmic connection to the human nervous system.
I have come to understand that I am following a particular artistic lineage—one that is ancient and has separate roots in the Far East, the West, and the Middle East. When I started making mandala-like paintings in 2009, I did not think of them as mandalas. I used the circle within a square as a formal device to make centered, iconic images. Eventually I came to see that, although not strictly speaking devotional, the paintings do speak to the sacred, to the largeness of life, to being one with the universe.
I identify myself with the long tradition of visual artists interested in notions of cosmology. In the East the lineage encompasses the mandala, which arose out of Hindu and Buddhist practice. The word manda, which means essence, is followed by the suffix la, which means container. Thus a mandala is a container of essence and is understood to be an abstracted geometric representation of the universe. The inception of the mandala dates from prehistory and continues as a living tradition to this day.
In the West the lineage includes mystics such as Robert Fludd (1574-1637), the English physician, astrologer, cosmologist, and follower of Paracelsus (1493-1541), who made a Creation drawing series of microcosms and macrocosms. The Swiss healer Emma Kunz (1892-1962), considered an “outsider artist,” used a pendulum to create large-scale mandala-like drawings on graph paper. And the Swedish painter and mystic Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), now acknowledged as a pioneer of abstract painting, worked on constructing a system of mystical thought.
In retrospect I have come to see that I am creating what my friend, the artist Thomas Lyon Mills describes as worlds within worlds with the aim of revealing profound, contemplative, slow, truths.