Work on Monday: “Mandala 453″ by Bill Armstrong

This week’s Work on Monday looks at a piece by photographer Bill Armstrong. Selections from the artist’s expansive Infinity series are currently on view at Sara Nightingale Gallery in Water Mill and they’re making quite a splash. Each image is created using traditional photography and various techniques devised by Armstrong to get his very unique results.

Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.

Mandala 453
Bill Armstrong
C-Print, edition of 5
30 x 30 inches, 2003

Armstrong’s “Mandala 453″ is one of many similar images in his Infinity series. Each features a somewhat circular shape at its center, as well as an individual exploration of color. This particular photograph and its unexpected combination of ocher, purple, grey and white (and the subtle hues in between) demonstrates the artist’s keen eye for color.

What at first appears to be a simple composition, easily created by digital means—or even by spray paint—actually proves to be born of a much more complex process. Armstrong begins his work in-camera, shooting “extremely out of focus” pictures with his focal depth set at infinity. He follows this with hand manipulations via photocopy, cutting and collage, and then rephotographs his creations the same way he started the process.

Through this palindromic effort, Armstrong finds a magical sweet spot in his pictures. While it stands up well as a deeply considered exploration of color, “Mandala 453″ goes deeper than that. It has a feeling of raw, spiritual energy—like some throbbing, primordial light or particle from which all matter once came.

The work’s strength lies in its ability to create narrative from abstraction while also functioning beautifully as pure form.

Bill Armstrong, Buddha & Mandala is currently on view at Sara Nightingale Gallery in Water Mill. The show has been extended from it’s scheduled September 3 conclusion. Visit saranightingale.com to learn more.

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