A Buddhist Pilgrimage Inspires Ricardo Mazal’s New Series of Paintings
Ricardo Mazal’s latest exhibition begins where a trilogy ends. For ten years the artist engaged in three major pilgrimages—to the Mayan tomb of the Red Queen in Chiapas, Mexico, the Peace Forest cemetery in Odenwald, Germany, and finally the sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet, which is the subject of “Kailash: Black Mountain,” at Sundaram Tagore. “After I saw for the first time the image of Mount Kailash, I realized that there was a striking visual resemblance to some of my paintings,” Mazal says. While recreating the monumental exhibition that took place at Mexico City’s Museo Estación Indianilla in 2012, this new iteration revitalizes Mazal’s journey, and the paintings, photographs, and video it prompted, and spans the gallery’s outposts in both Singapore and Hong Kong.
The site of one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most holy traditions, Kailash is visited by hundreds of pilgrims each year, who circle it for 28 days on a path to the summit, which is believed to be the center of the universe. The ritual—a means through which to purify the soul—led Mazal to spend four days there in 2009. His resulting photographs formed the basis of this series. Always striving to “instill an experience” in his viewers, Mazal developed this exhibition in order to explore “spirituality, devotion, and faith”; these factors inform an emotional, and encapsulating presentation that manifests itself in a spiritual atmosphere of devotion and tranquility.
Employing photography as a “bridge that links reality to abstraction,” Mazal digitally manipulated his images from Kailash to develop the compositions of his paintings. In his painting process he often pauses to photograph his progress, and returns to the computer. Inspired by the black-and-white streaks of the snowy mountain, the works consist of striated swathes of paint—deep, multicolored passages that gracefully float across the picture plane, like winding ribbons or birds in flight, referencing the tranquility of Kailash. Using cutting-edge digital technology, Mazal succeeds in “[bringing] reality to abstraction and the physical into the spiritual,” as he has said.
“Kailash: Black Mountain” is on view at Sundaram Tagore, Singapore, Apr. 11–May 15, 2014 and Sundaram Tagore, Hong Kong, Mar. 27th–May 3rd, 2014.