'Inhale' Encaustic Art Exhibition Review on Eastside FM 89.7
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… You might think we are just writing random numbers, but in fact these are the Fibonacci numbers that appear in biological settings such as branching in trees, the fruit sprouts of a pineapple and the flowering of an artichoke. The numbers are also intimately connected with the golden ratio, and are also a prime example of how mathematics is connected to seemingly unrelated things.
Psychotherapist and meditation mogul Noula Diamantopoulos used these numbers as part of her inspiration when creating her new exhibition, Inhale: Receiving the Divine Gift. The idea for the exhibition came to her after her mother’s recent death. Diamantopoulos was amazed by the fact that when her mother took her last breath, she inhaled rather than exhaled. This made her think, and it created “an idea of us as beings for this planet, and the concept of a preparatory void in anticipation of our arrival.”
“The fact that the last breath my mother took was an inhalation made me reflect. It would have made sense if her last breath was to exhale, but it wasn’t. The breath is a divine gift, and we don’t really die anyway. The death is like a new beginning”, Noula says.
Wax and fire
Each artwork in in the exhibition is layered with accumulations of wax imbedded with fragments of shell and crystal, or they are strung with talismanic found objects. The same materials are often integrated into Noula’s mosaics, another art form from her extended practice.
“I like working with wax and fire. You don’t know how it will look in the end, the wax is uncontrollable. That’s where my journey started”, she says.
The divine gift
For Noula, breath is mystical and her works explore and inhabit that fleeting balance between the known, the unknown and unknowable. The universal magnitude and the minutest particles embody the range and vast spaces Noula traverses to interpret and to convey visually and conceptually a sense of the divine gift of breath that can open up space, time, body and mind.
“Meditation for me is critical. It is about finding a space when you can access a state of pause, to stop, with intention”, says the meditation guru.
We are disconnected
Throughout the meditation session led by Noula that we participated in, many of us experienced heat, sweat and also nausea. Noula has an explanation. “Tensions and negative thoughts might come up for you through the meditation. This is your body you are connected with. And we are so disconnected and separate from our bodies. Some people say that their body let them down. Oh really? You are not your body?”, she says.
The ritual objects, which Noula titles ‘spirit sticks’, are seemingly to support a quest or path to be taken in both a spiritual and physical or a metaphorical sense. They are at once symbolic of a universal search and the artist’s own personal quest for meaning; particularly poignant and cathartic for the artist following the recent death of her mother. Many of the embellishments, skeletal shell fragments, feathers, threads, glass ‘eyes’ and markings that resemble cyphers for life and light from their Greek heritage acknowledge their shared heritage and stories. The artist likes combining meditation and creating art.
“In the first instance, meditation can be for relaxing. But it is more than that. Meditation is about connecting with your inner source. It is about understanding who you are in this world and space of silence”, she says.
This exhibition is the second part of a trilogy centred on the relationship of breath to life. The final part, Exhale, will close the trilogy as signaled by the artist in her earlier observation: “It occurs to me that though Breathing Space can be captured, it cannot be contained. Just like breathing – this gift of life dies the moment we capture it. We exhale moments after we inhale. Life starts and ends in these moments.”
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