By Fairooz Samy
If meditation could be captured visually, it would look like one of Cindy Leong’s pieces. The Auckland-born, Malaysian-Chinese painter uses her art to explore Buddhist and Taoist philosophies.
“Every question I had about life had already been thoroughly explored and contemplated within this ancient wisdom.” Painting felt “innate and ineffable” for Leong. “Painting is like having a dialogue with the canvas,” she explains, “whatever the artist felt is stored in the painting.”
Her first solo exhibition, The Equanimous Mind opened in February. Equanimity referring to a state of psychological peace and balance. The show reflected this ethos. Leong’s series, Storing Seeds, depicts rows of tiny painted seeds, all with minute differences in size and density, laid across linen canvases. Each is an exercise in mindfulness and the tiny variations simultaneously represent a mastery of practice and a lack of attachment to perfection.
“My works aren’t immune to the imperfections caused by my unconcentrated mind,” she says."The visual result of my ‘slips of the mind’ allow me to practice the notion of acceptance in Buddhist philosophy. I just accept what is and allow it to be.” This meditative attitude is perfected in Incense Burns on Rice Paper, where Leong has touched the burning tip of an incense stick to the delicate surface of a paper scroll to create rows of pin-prick holes.
The effect is mesmerizing, as viewers contemplate the patience and discipline of Leong’s repetitive strokes and the harmony she creates in both building up and burning away.
Leong’s upcoming second solo exhibition, Be Here Now, takes its name from a book on spirituality and yoga by Ram Das. “Visitors can expect a space imbued with stillness. I invite viewers to slow down, spend time with the paintings, and bring awareness to the here and now.”
Be Here Now runs from 22 July to 2 September 2023 at the Corban Estate Art Centre in Auckland.
First published in Art Zone #95