7 March // Mawrth – 16 April // Ebrill 2016
Artist Jonathan Anderson has made a new piece of work in his ‘Coal Dust Mandala’ series for Oriel Blodau Bach.
Using found materials and coal dust, these deceptively simple objects comment on environmental themes and thoughts about our current use of fossil fuels whilst simultaneously contemplating archetypal ideas about our spiritual condition.
“Mandalas and coal might equally be seen as power generators: one in the realm of the spirit and psyche, the other in the realm of human industry and technology. In our secular age a coal dust mandala might mediate a human desire for wholeness and reintegration in the continuum of the universe.”
Senior lecturer in History and Theory of Art at the Slade School of Fine Art
‘Coal Dust Mandala’ catalogue, Oriel Myrddin Gallery 2012
Jonathan Anderson is a Swansea based artist who has been working in South Wales since graduating from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2007. He has kindly let us show a piece of his work in Oriel Blodau Bach in the midst of his busy schedule of exhibitions all over the country.
Although his work is contemporary, in his practice Anderson is quite a traditional artist. Unlike so many artists these days, working in several different fields and coming back to their practice, Anderson has a strict work ethic and is daily to be found in his studio in Swansea. Here, amongst the Buddha heads and coal dust, it is clear that this strict regime sees him, each day, contemplating the small clutch of symbols which have become synonymous with his work: the simple outline of a house with no windows or doors, the Buddha heads, the pylon totems, light bulbs, clocks and circles.
The motifs in Anderson’s work are somewhat like the cold dust mandala which is on show here at the gallery. The idea of a mandala is that by focusing and meditating for a long time on the concentric shapes of the image one can attain a higher plain of enlightenment. Within Anderson’s practice these certain shapes and symbols become mandalas – not just studied and contemplated and meditated upon but lived with for many years. The depth of the artist’s contemplation of these shapes and symbols is clear in the work he creates – you can feel it.
Every element of each piece is simple but carefully selected to bring an idea in to focus. Even the materials used: coal dust and concrete, link the work to the industrial history of the area in which it is made and the future of the planet. The repetitive symbols of houses and clocks and pylons bring in to sharp relief the beauty and the horror of modern mass production and where it is taking us.
In Anderson’s work the viewer is offered a new, old way of seeing. The small palette of symbols and the smaller palette of materials: coal dust, concrete, board, narrows down the noise of the world to a single point of focus. The work takes the idea of a religious icon and transplants it in to the modern world asking the viewer to contemplate the house, the clock, the coal dust: the trappings of our busy world and be still for a moment.