Michael Kelley

About Mandalas

In seeking an element universal to man’s experience as a framework for these paintings, I have adopted a Jungian archetypal symbol known as the mandala. According to Carl Jung an archetype is an irrepresentable unconscious pre-existant structure of the psyche and can therefore manifest itself spontaneously anywhere at any time. The word mandala is derived from Sanskrit and means “circle”. Jung explains that the circle is a symbol of the Self and that it “. . . expresses the totality of the psyche in all its aspects.” As a rule, these mandalas represent the cosmos in its relation to the divine powers.

Mandalas and Meditation

The popular culture of the middle ages was dreary from a lot of mud, poor nutrition and illness. The normal state of mind must have been pretty lightheaded. The spring journey to the cathedral and the experience of seeing the sun rise and light up the stained glass must have provoked many an epiphany and the expansion of consciousness. Meditation is effective and probably the best way to get this expansion, and to focus on a mandala is a very good path to effective meditation. First, focus on the center until you see it so completely that it is integrated in your mind. Next, expand that focus to include the next ring. When that is integrated, a new bigger consciousness is on the job. The concept of flying carpets is about this. The typical carpet is a small runner with a mandala on each end. You sit on one; meditate on the other. It’s all about integrating, and the clarity and quiet focus required. When all of the rings of the mandala are integrated, you can fly in the astral plane.

Why Paint Mandalas?

To paint anything is a baring of the soul. I was painting landscapes to try to avoid explaining the message of my painting. I didn’t want “content” because every content is a complicated world with a lot already expressed in now trite and worn ways. The form of the mandala offered a path to expression of symbols in the place of specifics. It was a way to “express” without being pinned down.

So, to have this new project, to paint mandalas was very liberating and exciting and gave me a way to paint energy into a picture. While still painting landscapes, I became very interested in “OP” art (optical art) and the visual phenomena possible to employ in painting. It was fascinating to discover active reactions such as a mark of bright orange on a bright mid blue field. It would seem to blink and flash especially in a peripheral view. I worked to combine colors that create such effects and become active. Making use of the theory that warm colors advance and cold colors recede can make a mystical look because it seems like something has been added. But there is nothing new to be found –just an effect. Painting mandalas is very rewarding. They stand on there own by contributing to the expansion of consciousness.

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