Dyptich – 117 cm squared oil on canvas
During the spring of 2009 I practiced Tantra with a dusty, young Mauritian Hindu immigrant to Australia employed on the government ceiling insulation scheme of that year. We shared our family, house and meals with him and rose very early to practice in the sun room that was also my studio.
Sitting together involved relaxing body scans, chanting, awareness raising exercises and listening to talks on meditation and later on Yoga.
Meditating with a partner of the opposite sex is the highest form of bliss. I was fortunate to be able to sustain the practice for a year before demands of family life and the inevitable unsustainability of this paroxysm of desire broke the spell.
I learned a lot about how sensuous life could be without giving in to ideas of possession or permanence. The end of the affair involved quite a lot of tears , reflection and letting go.
I began the painting before he left the family. I used Photoshop to design two ghostly outlines of myself and my partner meditating and superimposed a snap shot collaging various drawings of my family at different times over the course of our relationships. I labored intensely over a protective green, healing mandala appropriated from a Tibetan Thanka painting. It is painted in perspective so as to give the impression of including and protecting the viewer. I included Shiva because Khoosh is a devotee and Quan Yin - goddess of compassion - because she is more my ideal.
The lines that connect the figures and items are taken from a memory of my Dad drawing up circuit diagrams as a young electronics engineer. They have featured on my t-shirt designs throughout my Neo-Geo phase in the 1980’s and now occur in my kidney series and sculptures as tubing representing connectedness. A favourite bed-time ritual was to ask my sons: ‘What colour is your Love today?’ and then come up with all sorts of exotic and shimmering combinations of moving colour. We also played drawing shapes into soap lather on your back then trying to guess what it is. My meditation partner was particularly good at this game.
Dust is a big metaphor in Buddhism - it stands for the accumulations of random impure and unconscious thought that eventually obscure the reflective mirror surface of pure insight. Ignorance is like this and is very different from any idea of ‘original sin’.
On September the 23rd as we were meditating, my partner and I noticed a ‘dusty taste’ in our mouths and were astounded to find as the sun rose that all of Sydney had been enveloped in a dust plume that had swept in from ‘corner country’ overnight, huge enough to be visible from space. The red oxide colour and blurry outlines of the auric connections in the painting are references to this experience.
AUD $17, 000
Portrait of a Mystic: AUD $ 5,000