In one basic way of describing the cosmos, ‘Âlam al-Shahâda عالم الشهادة, the World of Seeing or “visible world”, is contrasted with ‘Âlam al-Ghayb عالم الغيب, the World of Mystery or “invisible world”. In modern language they are sometimes described as the Conscious and the Unconscious. We are familiar with the former; it is forever filling our senses, concealing from us a subtler and wider reality that we only taste when we sleep.
In this piece inspired by a dream, the “visible world” is spelled out in the foreground mandala, which is torn to reveal a whole other world behind it, much like a painted theater background that collapses to reveal the reality behind it. This impression is reinforced by the contrasting treatment of the two planes. In the foreground I deliberately dulled the blue and used golden gouache for the dots, instead of the usual, much more gold-like metal leaf. The background on the other hand, unstructured and boundless, is painted over aluminium which shines through the watercololour, providing a mysterious depth. The myriad stars are painted in shell gold 23.5ct and shell palladium, then burnished, in order to truly sparkle.