Infusing creative ideas with symbolic meaning derived from ancient traditional use of the mandala, these artists are some of the best examples of how this traditional form has been combined with fine art.
Carl Jung (1875-1961)
While Jung’s use of mandalas in psychoanalytic therapy influenced the development of fields like art therapy, he didn’t just have his patients draw – he did as well. The Red Book is Jung’s incredible masterpiece of self-exploration, and includes his artwork and ideas, all in one monumental volume. It has plenty of examples of Jungian mandalas, and shows how in many ways Eastern and Western traditions were fused within his practice. Jung’s exploration of the unconscious through the mandala art form is fundamentally related to the ancient practice of using mandalas to meditate on enlightenment and the role of the self in the universe. While Jung created the work between the years of 1914-1930, it was finally compiled and released to the public in 2009.
Gade (b. 1971)
A Tibetan artist, Gade fuses contemporary and traditional ideas in his Himalayan-inspired pieces that feature characters from Western pop culture. While traditional mandalas were used to meditate on deities, Gade replaces these figures with the modern “gods” of pop culture. He does so to show how influential these pop figures are – anecdotally, he tells of finding kids with Mickey Mouse backpacks in a tiny Himalayan village. One of his most popular series of paintings uses the traditional “Five Buddhas” mandala style, only with pop figures like Batman, Ronald McDonald, and Mickey Mouse in the symbolic place and position of the Buddha. He also uses cultural objects to create the geometric shapes that surround the central forms.