Exhibition 2016: The Mandala Series

During 2016 I explored colour and shape through a series of Mandala paintings. I ended the year with a small exhibition of the Mandala Series on the 8th and 9th December.

Here are pictures of me describing Joy (left) and posing with Safe (right).

And below a selection of pictures of guests enjoying the evening of the 8th

 

 

Follow these links to earlier posts in my blog about the Mandala Series, the different types of energy in the first ten mandalas, how to buy my art.

Click on the pictures below to find the blog post about each picture in the series.

Peace Mandala 2
Mandala No.1: Peace
Happy mandala
Mandala No.2: Happy
Impact Mandala
Mandala No.3: Impact
Joy
Mandala No.4: Joy
Mandala No.5: Growing
Mandala No.5: Growing
exuberant mandala small
Mandala No.6: Exuberant
Hope small
Mandala No.7: Hope
Love
Mandala No.8: Love
Angry small
Mandala No.9: Angry
Harmony 2
Mandala No.10: Harmony
Interference small
Mandala No.11: Interference
Content
Mandala No.12: Content
Fear small
Mandala No.13: Fear
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Mandala No.14: Relax
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Mandala No.15: Focus
intersect-small
Mandala No.16: Intersect
grief-small
Mandala No.17: Grief
satisfied-small
Mandala No.18: Satisfied
safe-small
Mandala No.19: Safe

Mandala No.18: Satisfied

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Mandala No.18: Satisfied by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

There is nothing quite so satisfying as glorious, rampant symmetry. The repetition and pattern are just so good. Here is a pure indulgence in pretty symmetry.

The pattern consists of 16 segments of circles, all meeting in the middle. It creates a large yellow flower with 16 petals at the outer level, but the intersections reveal a series of similar flowers, getting smaller and smaller towards the centre.

Following the pattern from the outside in, the colours shift from the lightest yellow through orange and red to the deepest almost-black violet in the centre. The petals are emphasised with gold, adding to the exuberant excess.

Satisfied is painted in acrylic on a 50cm x 50cm gallery-wrapped canvas and finished in gloss acrylic varnish. The image continues over the edge as shown below. It is signed on the back and can be hung in any direction.

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Mandala No.15: Focus

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Mandala No.15: Focus by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Focus is about aligning your thoughts, actions and energy. You start out wide, but narrow down, getting closer and closer to a single point. So Focus is based on a spiral, moving inwards towards that focal point in the centre.

The alignment is represented by fish; first milling about aimlessly, but gradually turning until they all head in the same direction. Even in the background, the flowers align on the grass in sympathy.

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I tried hanging Focus in different ways. Hung square, the beautiful sweep of the spiral is clearer, but the dominance of the pink area makes the painting look unbalanced to me. So I tried hanging it diagonally and rather liked the result.

Focus is painted in acrylic paint on a 50cm x 50cm gallery-wrapped canvas and is finished with matt acrylic varnish. The image continues over the edge as shown below. It is signed on the back and ready to hang.

focus-detail-1

Mandala No.17: Grief

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Mandala No.17: Grief by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

Grief feels like having a hole punched through your chest, about where your heart used to be. It’s about emptyness, lack, someone missing.

My father died on the 4th of October and I am still trying to figure out how such a small man could have taken up so much space in the world, to leave such a big hole. Everywhere, there is this gap where he used to be. Nothing.

I stopped painting for a few weeks and when I started again this image of a life-buoy on a swirling sea came to mind. Those first few weeks felt like I was just clinging on, trying to keep my head above the dark water of depression that threatened to engulf me. Friends and random kind words, were that life-buoy.

There is something about those red stripes on the buoy that echo the violence of being separated, for ever.

But as I worked on this picture I struggled to depict the devastating nothingness, the hole that he has left. Until one morning, I woke up and cut an actual hole in the canvas. The lack of paint, the lack even of canvas, is the only way that I can convey absence.

grief-centre

Mandala No.17: Grief is painted in acrylic paint and finished in matt acrylic varnish on a 50 cm x 50 cm canvas. This mandala is signed on the back and could be hung in any orientation. I plan to frame it in such a way as to hold the canvas just off the wall, but I want the surface it is hung against to show through.

Mandala No.16: Intersect

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Mandala No.16: Intersect by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

I wanted to play with those Reuleaux triangles again, and this mandala started out as an experiment to see how they fitted into the square of the canvas. There are four of them, one with a point in the middle of each side. It gave an intruiging result, with the appearance of layers of almost squares. I added lines that complemented the edges of the triangles and the painting evolved into an exploration of intersections.

Intersections are about choices: Do you follow the path you are on? Do you choose another one? Which one will you choose?

It’s a messy picture, full of energy with the lines on the outside moving busily around the picture, containing the outward energy in the centre. For me it echos the busyness of living in the city where one moves along set paths, but with constant intersections which invite you to take another path, to explore something new. I find as I look at the painting that my eyes follow the lines up to an intersection and then swoop off in another direction.

Mandala No.16: Intersect is painted in acrylic paint and finished in gloss acrylic varnish on a 50 cm x 50 cm gallery-wrapped canvas. The painting continues around the edge of the canvas as shown below. This mandala is signed on the back and could be hung in any direction.

intersect-detail-4

For those of you who noticed that Mandala No.15 is missing, well spotted! It’s called Focus, and so is a bit more intense and taking longer to finish.

A holiday romance

On my recent holiday in Switzerland I fell in love – with the work of Augusto Giacometti, a Swiss painter  (16 August 1877 – 9 June 1947). One of the prolific Giacometti family, he was a cousin of Giovanni Giacometti, who was father of Alberto, Diego and Bruno Giacometti.

I first found his work in the Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur where the collection includes this striking painting:

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Starry Sky 1917

I love the way that he layers paint using small smudges of colour. According to the German Wikipedia entry, his gravestone reads “Meister der Farbe” or “Master of Colour”. In 2014 and 2015 the Kunstmuseum Bern hosted an exhibition of his work, titled “Colour and I”.

Inspired by the flowers of the Swiss countryside, he has been credited with being the first abstract painter as is wonderfully evident in this painting:

giacometti-abstract
Fantasy over a Potato Blossom 1917

I was also rather taken with this painting of a brook, in which he manages to create the foaming water with shades of grey and white and delicate foliage with tiny dots of paint. (Unfortunately I did not take down the title or the date, and have not been able to find them online.)

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But I was totally smitten after I encountered Rainbow, in the Kunst Museum Bern. It’s hard to do justice to this painting with an electronic picture. It’s large and the colours of the rainbow are clearer (particularly the orange layer of the rainbow). There are delicate, textured shades of grey to white around and within the rainbow. I was as entranced as the two figures in the foreground of the painting.

giacometti-regenbogen
Rainbow, 1916

Augusto Giacometti is also well-known for stained-glass work, but there is little information about him available in English, which is a terrible pity. The easiest place to see more of his paintings is at the athenaeum.

I came home with a copy of “Farbe und Ich” which accompanied the Bern exhibition, a collection of essays and prints of his work. I’ve been pouring over it, labouriously translating the German and soaking up the pictures, and its every bit as exhilarating as reading love-letters from a holiday romance.

Mandala No.14: Relax

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Mandala No.14: Relax by Judy Backhouse (copyright)

After working on Fear, I needed an antidote, so here is Relax, a comfortable composition reminiscent of the manicured grass, flowers, and water features of a well-run holiday resort. It’s deliberately clichéd because the familiar allows one to relax; nothing threatening here.

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In the middle of the mandala, a floppy sunhat might hide me, sitting on a candy-striped beach towel. This mandala uses cool, relaxing shades of blue and green, with happy yellow and orange.

Surrounding me is a pool of blue water. The traditional four doors of the mandala have become four stepping-stones across the water. The pool sits on a lawn of green mowed in traditional stripes. Then there is a tangle of yellow and orange flowers that add some irregularity to the otherwise very structured elements.

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Mandala No.14: Relax is painted in acrylic paint and finished in gloss acrylic varnish on a 50 cm x 50 cm gallery-wrapped canvas. The painting continues around the edge of the canvas as shown below. This mandala is signed on the back and could be hung in any direction.

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