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"Transformation Mandala" by Sarafina Brunetto Likoudis.

A Sarafina Brunetto Likoudis retrospective at the C. G. Jung Center

The paintings of Sarafina Brunetto Likoudis currently on exhibit at the C. G. Jung Center, display, in her words, her “progression towards self-actualization” as a person and an artist.

The small retrospective covers three rooms, corresponding to three periods of the artist’s career. The first room is of early work, experimentation in various abstract directions. The second room offers further experimentation, in more radically abstract directions, sometimes with a somewhat frenetic feeling, as if of searching for something ultimately elusive.

The third and main room contains a dozen or so comparatively more serene works, culminating in two powerful and beautiful mandala paintings, based on simple geometric forms. These two pieces have a formal presence reminiscent of minimalist sculpture.

The mandala works are most appropriate for the Jung facility, inasmuch as the mandala is a central feature of Jung’s doctrine and therapeutic practice. Essentially composed of the circle, which has a center, a still point of origin, and its conceptual opposite, the square, and further symbology according to the will and impulse of the creator of the particular mandala. Jung saw it as a meditational instrument that is integrative or reintegrative of the disparate components of the wounded, which is to say, disintegrated, psyche of the creator of the mandala, and potentially any observer. Mandala art reminds us of how art in general is therapeutic to the artist maker of the art as well as to the art audience.

The early work includes several painterly abstracts in daub techniques and dark hues shading to black, the only noticeable light sneaking into one corner, suggesting a momentary and tentative lifting of a curtain or veil before letting it drop again, allowing the darkness to prevail. Another piece is a collage of disconnected body imagery and verbal elements suggesting (garden variety) emotional growth issues.

"Untitled" by Sarafina Brunetto Likoudis.

The middle work includes one lovely, delicate gauze-imagery intaglio print, and several frustrational-looking works of smear-applied monocolor thick paint crudely scratched and scrawled over with scribble patterns with something like the back end tip of the painter’s brush. In one piece, the canvas has been cut and the cut sewn up again, like a flesh wound with stitches.

Besides the mandalas, the recent works includes several variations-on-a-theme modified pointillist technique works depicting cloud-like formations in varying densities of dots and hues, and sometimes with some darker demarcation lines, like folds or crease lines amid the cloud formations. And one anomalous-looking silkscreen work with text that gets straight to the point with a dictionary definition of “self” as “one’s total being.”

Both mandalas are in the same dark and foreboding red-brown against more luminous and optimistic orange-yellow color scheme, overlaid by a central geometrical figure—a circle, but with minimalist adjunct extensions—in black.

In one case, the circle features Greek classical motif curved and angled spirals in two opposite quadrants (suggesting labyrinths, as traditional physical/spiritual exercise instruments, akin to and associated with mandalas, but also recalling the Minotaur and Theseus and Ariadne story, with its heady mix of prosperity and disappointments), the other two quadrants displaying just blends and shadings in daub technique of the two predominant hues (a distinct blend progression of hues in the labyrinth quadrants suggests light at the end of the labyrinth).

In the other mandala, the circle is almost complete. Just one small break opening and what looks like a corridor passageway in the opening, suggesting free access communication outside and in, inside and out.

About her most recent works, the artist says in a statement, “In room three, art making becomes a meditative experience…The collective works proclaim that if we change in directions that keep moving us towards our passions and values, we will flourish.” Brava!

The Sarafina Brunetto Likoudis exhibit continues through the end of August. The Jung Center is at 408 Franklin Street. Access to the facility, which does not maintain regular gallery hours, can be tricky. Best call ahead: 854-7457.

jack foran

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