Recently I’ve completed two mandalas which are more complex than previous ones. It’s taken me some time to finish these ones, and be happy with the result. The new mandalas seek to represent something larger, more encompassing in our psyches. They seem to be quite mysterious and almost universal symbolically. I wanted to relate and link the earth (and specifically the oceans) with the greater cosmos. Both places are somewhat unexplored and remain unknown to us in many ways and these images perhaps convey that sense of spirit which largely remains undefined.
I’ve used as background, images of space that I purchased from Shutterstock but apart from that, the rest of the mandala has been developed from my own photos (as is the case with all my mandalas). It was a challenging process but a rewarding one. The images are available in 12″ prints. Feel free to contact me regarding making a purchase.
This month I’ve decided to show a piece by one of my fave artists, Mark Rothko. It’s titled “Number 20”, as in his later work he preferred to number his works rather than title them. It was painted in 1950 and was produced during the period of his life where he’d established a particular style, which some people label as “abstract expressionist”, others as “colour field”. Rothko was well known for his large dark canvases in maroons and blacks, but I chose this one to present an example that is much brighter in colour. I love the warm yellows and the bright strip of red. Rothko pursued symbolic and mythological themes and ideas in his works, and brought them to a point where they were completely non-representational. The paintings were large in size so the viewer would feel almost overwhelmed, and were meant to be viewed close up. He was a well known member of the New York School of abstract expressionists, born in 1903, and died in 1970.
I’m posting my regular “Artwork of the Month” a bit early this time….due to my computer problem. I will have to use an old image from my library and talk about that. But that’s ok….learning to embrace the circumstances! So this month it’s “Two goddesses with moons”.
This is quite an old painting and I’ve shown it before as part of a group of old paintings in an earlier blog. This painting depicts a symbolic landscape referencing neolithic times and the earth goddesses which prevailed during this period. I’ve placed them in a natural landscape, as they were goddesses of the earth. They have no particular names as there’s no written history for those times, but names are not important. They represent ancient people’s connection to the planet, and I like to reflect on this continuity for us today; reconnecting with the earth and respecting nature. The painting was made with oil paints and contains many symbols. These symbols are 4 moons, a triangle representing the feminine, a spiral (the cycle of life), and another circle, and a small zigzag symbol which according to research means something like “rain”. So we have quite a big collection of symbols creating layers of meaning. The goddesses are large earth mother types which was favoured in those times and their faces were never represented realistically…more like masks. And masks were possibly used in rituals during the neolithic period. The connection to the planet was a matter of survival for such people’s and throughout eastern Europe many such figurines have been unearthed from archeological sites, mostly featuring typically, these styled goddess figures and also a smaller group of male gods that seem to have less importance. So we can see from this research that fertility of the earth, it’s crops, and a bountiful supply of what people needed to live was upper most in their minds…hence the large amount of ritual objects. I was making a lot of research about these finds at the time of painting this picture, and others similar. It’s always interesting to go over old stuff and see it in a new light or simply refresh the memory. Hope you enjoy the image of the goddesses and the accompanying information.
Been working on a couple of collages, and have completed them. One I started a few weeks ago, “Citified”, and the second one I made in two days last weekend, “Inner world, Underworld”. “Citified” followed an idea of City that I wanted to explore, but I’m liking “Inner world, Underworld” most as I created it with the intention of being purely intuitive in my selection and placement of the photo images. It seems to express deep parts of my psyche, and on completion I felt very satisfied, as if something hidden had been revealed. Symbolssuch as an eagle, spider, gardens, a chair, flowers, a fan, a heart, deep and shallow water etc. emerged from my selection and I placed them in pleasing yet random ways. These symbols have often appeared in my dreams and I’m quite familiar with them, but still surprised me when I chose to cut them out. Colour and texture in the images initially attracted me. This way of working with collage is sometimes called “self-mirroring” and is designed to bring forth repressed or unseen aspects of our being. We can then reflect on this and learn something of ourselves in the process. This inner process can take a few weeks to emerge but will often reveal a kind of teaching. I enjoy this type of artistic creativity and pursue it with my abstractions, allowing them to be really spontaneous and unconstructed. No pre-planning allowed!
Artist SUSAN LHAMO of BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA has received a Special Recognition Award in the”11th Annual Color: Bold/Subtle Juried Online International Art Exhibition” hosted by Upstream People Gallery.This international exhibition received approximately 160 art entries from around the world and 32 artists were selected by the juror Laurence Bradshaw, Professor of Art at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, U. S. A. Professor Bradshaw states this about this specially recognized work:
“‘SUSAN LHAMO of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in her acrylic painting “Red and Blue Abstraction” shows such vitality with the gestural brushstrokes and this bodes well with the colour choices of mostly red with some pink, ochre, blue-violet and red-violet altogether with black, grey and white. All making for a wonderful energy.”‘
Further information about this specially recognized artwork:
“‘My intention in this work is to create a strong statement with contrasting and vibrant colour. The patches of ultramarine blue are bold, and encourage the viewer’s eye to move around the painting. The red is also bright but I’ve pulled it back from being overwhelming by the addition of pinks. There are underlying layers that only subtly appear, giving tiny hints of what lies beneath. A few symbols and parts of words are seen emerging but aren’t clearly distinguished. Through creating layers, I invite the viewer to make enquiries about what is “seen/unseen”, and to imagine a hidden world which is perhaps exciting, and vivid in experience, yet not revealing all its secrets. There is spaciousness in areas of the painting, and this helps the eye to rest and enjoy the colour filled atmosphere, and the subtle nuances of line and texture.”‘
The exhibition will be featured online during August, 2014 at www.upstreampeoplegallery.com and continue indefinitely in the archives section of the website.
This month, the artworks I’m looking at again, are from a series of “Goddess” paintings I made 20 years ago. Oil paints were the medium. Many of these paintings were from my first solo exhibition “Journey to the Forest within”.
It’s good to reflect on where we’ve come from, and motivations and inspirations from an earlier time. In the late ’80’s to mid ’90’s I spent time researching ancient goddesses from old Europe. These archaeological finds were mainly of small statues, quite simple in appearance yet conforming to a particular style, which over millennia changed very little. They seemed to represent aspects of the earth goddess which people of those times relied on for providing them with all their needs. We are talking about times from around 7000 till 2000 BC, the last remnants of the goddess civilisations being that of the Minoan civilisation.
I loved the simplicity yet power of these designs, and their decoration. Many of these finds were made in Eastern Europe, and were originally researched by Marija Gimbutas. This information was collated in her book “Goddesses and gods of Old Europe”.
I used the goddess image and decorative motifs in a group of paintings made over many years. These symbols used have remained with me till the present time, and are occasionally found in recent paintings. In the old paintings the most common ones were the curved moon, lines representing rain, decorative zigzags, dots, triangle representing fertility, spirals, birds and circles representing home or inclusion. I used them both with the original meaning and also for decorative purposes. So I’ll just put up a small sideshow for your enjoyment.