The mandala (literally meaning “circle” in Sanskrit) is a symbol with very deep religious, spiritual and even political meaning. The classical form for a mandala is a square with four (generally T-shaped) gates containing a circle with a centre point, and generally displaying radial balance. More generically, “mandala” can mean a geometric pattern intended to symbolise the cosmos, and which contains a squaring of the circle, representing balance and order.
Mandalas are also intrinsically beautiful works of art, as demonstrated by Australian artist Sheba Blitz, whose work is the subject of the latest exhibition at Kayly Iali’s Gallery 24 at Tabula Rasa. Sheba describes herself as a Mandala Artist, producing her intricate pieces using gouache, acrylics and metallic paints on either canvas or paper, drawing on sources such as music, books, astrology and tarot symbolism as her inspiration.
Mandalas – particularly those created through sandpainting, or dul-tson-kyil-khor, in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism – have always fascinated me, the inherent balance present within them, the confluence of ideas they represent – the sheer beauty and intensity of their very creation – is utterly absorbing and calming. Sheba’s works exhibits all of this, each one individually rich in symmetry and harmony. Fortunately, as they are produced through more substantial mediums than coloured powders, they remain with us for far longer; there is no metaphor for “impermanence” here. Instead, one might say they are reflective of the enduring measure of the cosmos.
Sheba informs Kayly that she didn’t come to Second Life to display her work; she decided to do so as a result of naturally seeking out other artists and attending exhibitions, buying art by others and immersing herself in the means to experience art in a new way. Fortunately, she was also invited to exhibit her art in-world, and because of that original invitation, we can now all enjoy her work.
It doesn’t matter whether you follow the spiritual, religious or even Jungian view of mandalas, Sheba’s work is instantly approachable and can be appreciated in and of itself. However, should you feel the desire, the back room of the gallery offers a spot for quiet contemplation.
- Gallery 24 (Rated: Moderate)
Note: There are times when, after publication, a title of piece doesn’t read so well as during the drafting. It didn’t occur to me until after this piece went out that “Mandalas in Second Life” could be taken as a reference to Nelson Mandela, particularly given July 18th was his birthday. This being the case, I have revised the title – and my apologies to anyone thinking it was a reference to the great man. I’m now off to wipe the egg from my face…