“I dig deep in my art, down into the numbness and pain to where the movement calls. I respond. I find that I am lost, and I paint to find my way through. My paintings are like maps, giving me insights into navigating the terrain of my life.”
LA Artcore remembers artist Barbara Mindell, an inspiration for many people, and an exemplar for employing art to reconcile and endure. Many aspects of her work serve to celebrate life’s mystery, and in the context of her life help others discover a connection to their own lives. Her paintings are deeply intertwined with a concern for healing, in her case a healing of the spirit, an assertion of life’s vitality by transforming the intractable into the fluid. By using painting she explored the dynamic within human existence and her own situation, a physical trauma which resulted in paralysis and required the use of a wheelchair. She created a legacy that points the way towards fully inhabiting our own bodies, our mental environments and our creative capacity.
Mindell’s paintings are a blend of abstraction and figure, using color, position, and form to describe the constant shift of volition. The artist found that the movements between form and formlessness correlated to the conscious and unconscious, body and mind, or foreground and background. Her work was fully integrated with her essential pursuits: seeking to understand implicit response and interconnectedness, and of widening her own perception and expanding personal evolution. The paintings are volatile and peaceful, capturing transformation with energetic brushstrokes and alternating light and dark. The figures move from spectral to occupying the center of an intimate stage.
“My large abstract paintings reflect inner biological landscapes of the soul. I work with the suggestion of images of the interior of the body – bones, nerves, blood, tissues and cells – placing them in a wider context of their oceanic existence, where they can become something else."
They remain a powerful insight into the personal transformation of the artist’s perspective, and record not only her own process, but the devotion with which she served others as a teacher of Continuum Movement, a holistic body and spirit renewal program. She found painting was a way to escape the feeling of being condemned: by translating herself into color and image, she could soften the sense of imprisonment she experienced. We all have much to learn from the insights of such artists, who can manifest most vividly the internal condition as a full spectrum of human response and life, regardless of exterior situation. In a miraculous display of transference, the experience of the body is extended to the canvas itself. Mark Strickland, a close friend, writes in a catalog published for the exhibition: “Abstract expression starts from not knowing what you’re seeing. You look, you listen, and you respond by touching the painting where it needs to be touched. You develop a very sensual relationship with the painting, as if it is a living thing.”
Individuals close to the artist describe watching her healing process unfold in her paintings, and can mark the moment when the painter let go of a more locked experience in relating to her body, causing the figures and forms in her paintings to lift off, to float and encompass an integral independence in themselves...