Thursday, September 06, 2007

After the Fact

Anonymous has a question, which Chris doesn't think I should answer. But being basically self-absorbed, and thrilled with the attention, I will answer it anyway:
I'm not an art person. I know nothing. I have neither the vocabulary nor the sensibility to discuss it. If anything, I like nice old historical portraits of individuals, where one knows just what one is seeing and whether it looks pleasing or ill. But 'Heart' affects me unlike anything I've ever seen before. How odd and bewitching! Please explain it to me if you can, what this painting is supposed to represent and elicit.
Well, Anon, please take all of the following with a huge handful of salt, because this painting (and just about all of the good ones) was created intuitively, without attempting to literally depict anything, either an object or an idea. Each new painting is a function of everything that went before, both a sum total of my experience with painting, and of life experience, and ideas floating loosely around in my mind.

With that said--it was based on a mandala I drew last year:

which is one of my favorites, being particularly baroque and organic. The painting, instead of just being a bigger, colored version of it, is a bit like being hit in the face. At least, that's how I feel when I stand in front of it.

Compositionally, it's a pretty simple assembly of three more or less circular forms, one ornate, one small, one dark and messy. Colorwise, it's also very simple, with the whites over gold and rose giving it a feeling of glowing from within; however, the broken sections of deeper rose in the mandala have the feeling of cuts or wounds.

The color of the small circle specifically gives me a tight feeling over the solar plexus; I didn't analyze it much farther than that.

Take the rest of this as metaphor, if you like; or don't take it at all.

Yoga philosophy postulates that our bodies have seven vortices, called chakras, at major nerve plexuses--root, genital, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. Each chakra, when functioning properly, takes in information from the world around us and processes it, helping to build our world-view and sense of place in the world. However, most of us have 'blocks' in some of our chakras, which mean that we are 1) not taking in information through them, 2) projecting information out through them that we then read as coming from outside, or 3) defending against the miasma of clogged energy brought about by past traumas and fears.

This painting is not a literal illustration of a blocked heart chakra, the way Alex Grey might paint it, but rather an attempt to convey the feeling of having such a block; the muddiness obscuring something which you can intuit is whole, intricate and symmetrical, but which you cannot completely access.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response. I looked and looked at this picture last night, then when I finally went to bed it remained in my mind. I could not understand, and I sought to put concrete language to this. Well what happened basically was that your painting led me last night through such a journey of healing as to equal probably 8 months of psychotherapy! My own experience of this piece in some ways parallels your description, though of course specific to my current situation and felt very, very deeply. Wow!

And I have never said "wow" over a painting before! And it is so beautiful, so beautiful.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these!

prettylady said...

Wow! Thank YOU! That's what 'success' means to me!

Anonymous said...

Also, I suspect that I could perhaps look at this painting every day for the rest of my life and it would never grow stale, instead each day speaking to me where I am its compassion and knowledge and hope. Today it is already something slightly different to me than it was yesterday. I am well acquainted with music, but I never knew there was this language that could so speak to my soul through my eyes as well.

Desert Cat said...

As long as it's Q&A time, I have a burning question. I've intuited what I think the answer may be, but I want to know your *intent* first.

In the specific way that you employ these mandalas in your paintings, what do they represent? (I'm ruminating on that "Meditation" one in particular at the moment, but there seems to be a common theme to their use in many of your recent paintings.)

prettylady said...

Anon, your comments are the best birthday present I could possibly receive.

Desert Cat said...

I've been meaning to mention this for some time, but that mandala is very evocative of Salvia divinorum visions. The tendrils and outer forms are shades of green, of course, and the central "petals" are a vivid, iridescent red with yellow fringes--I mean *primary* red and yellow. Missing are the sharp thorn-like edges along the inner "petals", or alternately in place of the thorns would be little black tassels.

It's all in motion, of course, as new petals tear open and outward from the center--this before the vision dissolves and becomes something else entirely...

I thought about printing this image out and playing around with pastels to see what I could do with it. But that's not likely to ever happen (time and all).