Aaron Matheson lives and works in Croydon, Sydney. He has been a finalist in the Mosman and Waterhouse prizes, and awarded the Richard Ford travel award. He completed a year’s postgraduate diploma in drawing at the Prince’s Drawing School in London in 2007. He has completed a graduate diploma in counselling.

‘My painting is an intuitive search for an adequate description of ‘being’, the internal feeling of body and mind. I make a lot of small A5 paintings intuitively. The small paintings respond to quite abstract senses of mind such as awkwardness and fragility, radiation and restriction and floating and falling, for example. The small paintings become the starting point for larger works that can be more immersive for the viewer. 

Sometimes a body shape is a signifier in these paintings and at others an abstract form predominates. At times, the landscape and body are collapsed into one, for example the mountain. The limitations of paint and support creates a tension between the experience of body/mind and its depiction. This gap or tension means that the unknown glows more strongly, as the painter Enrique Martinez Celaya says, painting like this “invokes a gap between our consciousness and the world and invites longing to span across it.” 

Looking at mind can seem quite a hermetic thing to do, but that is what the practice of mindfulness asks us to do. Rather than being introspective, the process of mindfulness opens up a space where conventional values and assumptions are in question, and can be entirely reassessed and rearranged. This ‘not knowing’ and questioning becomes part of the language of painting, in the spaces and gaps in the image. 

Intuititively, colour, shape and texture in the painting evoke the way mind escapes my reach: that ever-present and radiating nature of the mind, of ‘being’. In the buddhist tradition there are examples of individuals being encouraged to ‘search for mind’. In one such example Sanje Jhap, a Tibetan shepherd, tells his teacher Milarepa in the ’Shepherd’s Search for Mind’:

“Dear lama, last night I tried to find out what my mind is and how it works. I observed it carefully and found that I have only one mind. Even though one wants to, one cannot kill this mind. However much one wants to dismiss it, it will not go away. If one tries to catch it, it cannot be grasped; nor can it be held by pressing it. If you want it to remain, it will not stay; if you release it, it will not go. You try to gather it; it cannot be picked up. You try to see it; it cannot be seen. If you try to understand it, it cannot be known. If you think it is an existing entity and cast it off, it will not leave you. If you think that it is non-existent you feel it running on. It is something illuminating, aware, wide awake, yet incomprehensible. In short, it is hard to say what the mind really is. Please be kind enough to explain the meaning of the mind.”

It is this incomprehensibility that the work gestures towards, playing with glimpses of what mind might or could be that suggest further possibilities, that seem just around the corner.’