Friday, November 14, 2008

bordering on harmony

The beauty of a thing lies in the fact that the possible perfection, corresponding to its inner nature, emerges.
Al Ghazali

The essential essence of our embodiment as human beings is our sense of perception. A very dear friend who has been a Sufi for many years once told me it was improper to draw pictures of naked ladies and animals. Furthermore, if I wanted to surrender to Islam as I was considering at the time, it was a pastime that must cease. Oh well, that was it for me becoming a Sufi. Buddhism doesn't come with the same stringent regulations and as we all know, practice makes perfect, whatever the practice.

I did spend some time considering the extraordinary beauty and grace of Islamic art as well as the magnificent poetry of the Sufi masters and thus painted a couple of mandalas based on the borders I'd been using for years. Where would they go if they were allowed to define the entire space? As you'll notice, I had a hard time giving up any representation of the natural world. The hummingbirds insisted on being accommodated in this one and where better for them to play? Al Ghazali's thought seemed to echo my impression.


You think that I know what I do, that I belong to myself for one or even half a breath? As little as a feather knows what it writes, as little as a ball guesses where next it flies.
Rumi

The first mandala I painted was never photographed but was carefully packed as a birthday card to my friend. She was pleased.. or at least she still loved me enough to say so :-)

21 comments:

Pagan Sphinx said...

Oh, I'm sure your friend was very pleased. How could she not be.

The mandalas are so beautiful Susan. I can't decide which one is my favorite.

I guess I could not be a Sufi either. I would have to give up posting The Friday Evening Nudes. ;-)

La Belette Rouge said...

I BEG you to have these printed on silk scarves. Mandala scarves! Watch out Hermes, here comes Phantsythat!!

Seriously, Susan, these are absolutely magnificent. I am going back to meditate on them for a while.

Anonymous said...

Those paintings are incredibly calming. Hypnotic. Thank you.

I agree with la belette rouge - they would make wonderful textile prints.

Seraphine said...

i love your mandalas. you were in an amazing place when you made them.
i can't imagine not drawing animals. if told not to, i'd probably find a way to represent them in a design or something.
can't you see the face of god in the stars? there, to the right of orion.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

i have google search for mandala artists. that's how i found your post today. these mandalas are wonderful. it's so much fun to find other mandala makers.
many blessings
~sueokieffe

Randal Graves said...

Aside from the whole imaginary supernatural sky dude thing, I could never be a Muslim if I couldn't post shots of scantily-clad ladies in my blog. And I'd get a stern talking to for checking out your place ;-)

LBR has a wonderful idea. These would be very cool as scarves!

susan said...

pagan sphinx - I'm happy to know you like them.

I attended Sufi Zhikrs regularly in NY and Philadelphia over the course of 5 years. I met some amazing people and converting was something I considered very seriously. I just don't do well with rules.

lbr - I know you've got your own worries today with the fires so close and do hope you're okay.

Thanks for the suggestion but I don't have connections to any silk printers. Strangely enough, you can print on special paper-backed silk on ink jet printers but there's no such thing as a 36" wide home printer and I couldn't afford one if there was. That's why I paint my own scarves but none of them are as complex as the mandala paintings.

dcup - You know me.. Ms. Calm :-)

sera - I think the Islamic artists did exactly that with a lot of their decorative work. The face of a Deity in the stars always scares me.

sue - Thanks so much for your visit and leaving a comment. I'm not a mandala painter in general but it was rewarding.

randal - Yeah, I do have a mangled belief system but imaginary sky dudes handing down edicts and rewards-punishments isn't part of it.

Ingrid said...

WOW... as always, your art just electrifies me..such a gift..I'm so jealous!! (in a 'good' way though..I'm just wishing I had a talent in whatever it would be that would be so evocative as yours)..
the first mandala's colour is wonderful, and I'm not even a big fan of 'green'..brava my dearest Susan..keep posting this..

hugs

Ingrid

gfid said...

.... what they said.... you continue to feed our souls beauty, o gifted one.

i've finally got a picture of your exquisite prize in its new home for you, posted today. it's a continuing joy to wear. thanks again.

susan said...

ingrid - Most of the time it feels more like an obsession than a gift. My reason for everything I've painted or made has been the necessity of seeing seeing something I envision take physical form.. and I'm never satisfied.

gfid - That's wonderful. I'm coming right over :-)

Zee said...

OK, this actually concerns me somewhat.
Let me do this very abruptly, because the "medium" here is such.
1500 years ago the Arab world was at the peak of an equinox to seize wisdom, knowledge and art. They had the largest library of the ancient Greeks, the most sophisticated collection of artifacts, the most invaluable treasures of the world.
Then Mohamed strikes. Stunned the populous in Mekka, then takes over Medina. Maybe there was a reason for this. Maybe the "then society" was ahead of it's time, too advanced. They needed a "damper", and Mohamed provided for it, slowed them down.
But as a result, no pictures of nature, be it animal, or human - was to be depicted in any form or matter. A sad story because it never conjured with the development of the consciousness-soul of the 21st century, it merely got only embedded in the fancy emblems of oriental carpets, knotted with high skill.
The failure of Islam, and also Sufism, which is a purer form, or an esoteric form of Islam, is basically that "they" never went with time.
For "them" it is still a doctrine that the ego of the human being can only develop by Allah, and not by the human being itself.
That is the crucial breaking point between "them and us".
As an artist, in this age of "consciousness" , no limits are of option.
We need to speak back the language that was entrusted upon us!

lindsaylobe said...

They are beautiful mandalas and thanks for taking about aspects of your past life and thought to add to the rich tapestry of your art. It seems to me Al Ghazali would not have had any real concern about paintings of naked ladies and animals, but I’m no scholar on the matter. Whilst St Thomas Aquinas embraced the non Islamic Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato, Ghazali discarded them because of their non belief –so I guess its matter of how extreme those beliefs were. Aquinas however incorporated some of the Islamic type philosophy embraced by Al Ghazali into his christen philosophy.
Apart from that I really don’t know much about Al Ghazali except his ideas seem to border on pantheism whilst embracing as far as I can gather a certain creationism in all things ?

Best wishes

susan said...

zee - What I recall being told was that the Arabs were envious of the people of 'the Book' and were actively looking for their own 'Messiah'. What can I say? People tend to get crazy and fundamentalist tendencies in an illiterate populace is a prescription for the disasters we've been seeing (and living with here). I have my own list of architectural wonders that were destroyed long before the Buddhas in Afganistan which the Taliban apparently blew up because they were irritated by the west refusing to recognize their legitimacy. There was probably a window of opportunity to establish mutual understanding but the Crusades kind of killed that. I doubt they're going anywhere any more than Christianity is so it's probably best we try to heal the wounds rather than getting out another bag of salt.

susan said...

lindsay - I have a strong sense you are much more knowledgeable about Al-Ghazali than me. I happened to run across a book of Sufi poetry that had a few of his pieces included and that's where I found this one.

It's mysticism in all its manifestations that catches my heart.

Border Explorer said...

Susan---these are simply exquisite! You constantly amaze me. I adore your work.

Gary said...

And just how is your friend these days?

And these are beautiful, as everything you paint is.

Even ladies with clothing are verboten in Islamic images.

I wonder about photos?

linda said...

these are exquisite...I really don't know what else to say, you rendered me speechless! absolutely beautiful work ...

these mandalas, for me, were a wonderful blessing...thank you for sharing them...as were the words...

Border Explorer said...

Susan, I'm back and off-topic (sorry!) Would you mind if I tagged you to share your music preferences with us?

Border Explorer said...

Susan, I'm back and off-topic (sorry!) Would you mind if I tagged you to share your music preferences with us?

Zee said...

Bag of salt Susan, to sprinkle into not yet healed wounds? That's not viable.
How is the raven doing?

susan said...

be - So happy to bring some delight to a very busy lady :-)

gary - My friend is fine and well, thanks. You know she spent some time in Nelson, don't you?

You're right - paintings, no but photos seem to be okay for them (so long as the proprieties are considered).

linda - I'm glad to be part of the group :-)

zee - Salt or cautery - I have no answer either but there is a new 'Crow' post since you asked.