Andy Harper 'The Mandalas'

Fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the solo exhibition 'The Mandalas' at Anima Mundi, St. Ives

Fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the solo exhibition 'The Mandalas' at Anima Mundi, St. Ives


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“Philosophy [nature] is written in that great book which ever is

before our eyes - I mean the universe - but we cannot understand

it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols in

which it is written. The book is written in mathematical language,

and the symbols are triangles, circles and other geometrical

figures, without whose help it is impossible to comprehend a

single word of it; without which one wanders in vain through a

dark labyrinth.”


Despite ancient and numerous theological associations a

mandala is traditionally seen as representative of reality, as

lived. It is often a representation of wholeness and a model to

aid reflection on the organizational structure of life itself. A form

of diagram that shows our relation to the infinite that extends

beyond and within various minds & bodies from the micro to

the macro. The microcosm / macrocosm analogy refers to a

perennial view which posited a structural similarity between ‘us’

and the ‘cosmos’ as a whole where truths about the nature of the

cosmos may be inferred from truths about our human nature, and

vice versa. German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz stated

that “this interconnection or accommodation of all created things

to each other, and each to all the others, brings it about that


each simple substance has relations that express all the others,

and consequently, that each simple substance is a perpetual,

living mirror of the universe.” It is a grasping of this sense of

oneness, that can be both expressed and experienced through

this form. The re-introduction of mandalas into modern Western

thought is largely credited to psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. In

his exploration of the unconscious through art, Jung observed

the common appearance of a circle motif across religions and

cultures. He hypothesized that’s own circle drawings reflected

the mind’s inner state at the moment of creation and were a kind

of symbolic archetype in the collective unconscious.

Although there may be a relationship between these theoretical

standpoints and the works exhibited, Harper hasn’t been

deliberately led by them. Instead, it is through the act of

praxis, where thought and intuition meet through the hand, that

discovery can occur. He states that “there is a system to the

paintings production but this network of marks and calculations

have to be capable of catching a poetry that creates its own self

contained world, a world within a world…a cycle within a cycle”.

I am reminded of Isaac Asimov who wrote in his book ’Second

Foundation’ that “a circle has no end.”

Joseph Clarke, 2023


The Longest Day

oil on linen, 180 cm diameter





oil on canvas, 90 cm diameter


Side Chain

oil on board, 60 cm diameter





oil on board, 60 cm diameter


Slant Rhyme

oil on aluminium panel, 79 cm diameter




Rhythmic Sway

oil on aluminium panel, 79 cm diameter


Diode Clipping

oil on aluminium panel, 79 cm diameter




Spring Reverb

oil on linen, 180 cm diameter


The Carriers

oil on aluminium panel, 120 cm diameter



Andy Harper’s intricate oil paintings deal with the fruits of labour

in the shadow of uncertainty. On one side they are concerned

with the immediate process of painting, the mechanical,

almost automated act of laying down mark after mark on a

wet surface. On the other hand, they are subject to long-term

strategy, each mark developed over time and embedded into

a composition that provides an architectural structure for the

work. While this framework may be logically ordered, the marks

themselves are organic entities, forming a broad visual library

that has taken on a life its own, growing through repetition and

recombination in each new work. The paintings act like a Petridish

for the culturing of this visual language, and a greenhouse

for its cultivation. The forms may seem organic, but upon

closer inspection they are not specific to anything the natural

world has to offer. Rather they appear as a synthetic form of

nature, generated from compulsive repetition and subjective

reinterpretation, a world that has somehow evolved beyond the

point of progeny to become its own independent alien entity.

Andy Harper lives in St Just, the most westerly town in Cornwall

and works from a studio at the renowned Porthmeor Studios in

St Ives. He studied his BA in Fine Art: Painting & Printmaking

at Brighton Polytechnic and then MA Fine Art: Painting at the

Royal College of Art, London. In 1996, with some peers from

the RCA, Harper co-founded NotCut which ran a studio and

photographic darkroom in London and curated ‘Lightness &

Weight’ in Birmingham. During this time he also studied part

time at Middlesex University for an MA in Visual Culture and had

his first solo exhibition in London in 1998. After attending the

Braziers International Artist Workshop in 2000, Harper became

a member of the organising committee until 2008. Harper has

taught in many institutions nationally and internationally, and

had teaching posts at Central St. Martins, The City Lit and is

currently a Senior Lecturer on the MFA Fine Art programme at

Goldsmiths, University of London. Harper has exhibited widely

in Europe, North America and South Korea.

Published by Anima Mundi to coincide with Andy Harper ‘The Mandalas’

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or

by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers

Anima Mundi . Street-an-Pol . St. Ives . Cornwall . +44 (0)1736 793121 . mail@animamundigallery.com . www.animamundigallery.com


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