Woke up by Matthew Thomas’s Religious Abstractions
LOS ANGELES — A mild soundscape greets you upon getting into Enlightenment, a survey of work and a site-specific set up by artist and artwork professor Matthew Thomas. Tucked inside one of many galleries on the California African American Museum (CAAM), Enlightenment provides respite from the hustle and bustle of the close by Exposition Park. It felt like I had wandered right into a verdant oasis, lulled by the sounds of water by a stream and wind blowing by grass. A way of tranquility washed over me as I took in Thomas’s geometric abstractions, hovering harmonies of coloration and motion introduced on wooden panels of varied shapes. The usual white partitions have been changed by pink, blue, and inexperienced — every wall overcome by a special coloration.
“Embracement” (2019) seems on the blue wall, an rectangular portal that mixes monochrome and chakra hues right into a coil of arcs, circles, squares, and contours. Subtly, the portray invitations us on a journey to the supply, represented by the gold auric subject suspended within the heart. There isn’t any one solution to attain the gold, as there are quite a few paths one might take, illustrated by the traces from all instructions feeding into it. Thomas’s work induce a trance state, the place the refined energies coursing throughout the pure and non secular world take heart stage.
Born in Texas, Thomas studied on the Chouinard Artwork Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) in Los Angeles, and has been exhibiting his work and blended media work since 1975. His work blends his curiosity within the pure sciences along with his personal examine of Japanese religions and philosophies, particularly Buddhist Tantra. One of many three fundamental types of Buddhism, tantra emphasizes that enlightenment may be attained by a wide range of practices and experiences, from visualizations to ritualized hand gestures to meditation and yoga. In the end, tantra reminds us that the separate, individualized self is an phantasm, one which distracts us from the sacred threads binding us all collectively.
Thomas has been drastically influenced by tantra — he ultimately left Los Angeles for rural Thailand in 2011 to deepen his non secular apply. His multimedia works recast his personal path to enlightenment. In “Getting into the Coronary heart” (2016), seed-like shapes float towards a nugget gold background. Delicate threads weave out and thru the seeds, creating iridescent patterns that evoke butterfly wings. In Sanskrit, tantra means “threads” or “woven collectively,” and Thomas’s traces tackle an analogous high quality, vibrating like strings of the cosmos. Tuning into these sacred frequencies, which exist throughout us, can result in a transformative awakening.
In keeping with the wall textual content that marks the start of the exhibition, Thomas views his present as “a honest effort to deliver components of artwork as messengers of our potential divinity.” By sharing his explicit visible language, he hopes to set off our personal connection to the divine as expressed in nature and inside ourselves. Thomas’s work require your time and focus. I discovered my tempo slowing as I circled the gallery, wanting to see acquainted shapes anew. Some work, like “Heart” (2019), which referenced the 5 components by its coloration scheme, provoked a mobile response in me. Thomas’s geometric abstractions join us to a unconscious language, one felt within the spirit slightly than the logical thoughts.
Enlightenment was conceived by former CAAM visible arts curator Mar Hollingsworth and arranged by curator Taylor Renee Aldridge. Aldridge describes Thomas’s work as “visible prayers” that categorical a need for oneness between humanity and nature. Embedded inside Thomas’s symbols is a quiet rejection of the borders and hierarchies espoused by Western values. His work map out a special way of life, one primarily based on consciousness and interdependency.
Matthew Thomas: Enlightenment continues on the California African American Museum (600 State Drive, Los Angeles) by August 7. The exhibition was curated by Mar Hollingsworth and Taylor Renee Aldridge.