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Himalayan history and nature defined in Elzay Gallery exhibition

The circular form of Sugden's exhibit. (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

The circular form of Sugden's exhibit. (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Findlay-based artist Philip Sugden prefers to explore the interesting relationship between the relative mind and the mind that is unrestrained by a distinct description. His passion for philosophy, religion, and nature combines for his “Pages from the Manual on Dismantling God” art exhibition at Ohio Northern University’s Elzay Gallery of Art.

The exhibit is on display until Feb. 26. The gallery is open daily from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sugden’s exhibit is free and open to the public.

For me, this process has been an ongoing transformation inspired by twelve journeys in the Himalayas and Tibet and the practice of meditation,” Sugden describes to his viewers in his artist statement.

Sugden’s exhibit features 21 sheets of acid-free, archival, handmade Himalayan Daphne paper. Ink and gouache, an opaque watercolor paint, complete the pictures on the paper. Even though I probably wasn’t supposed to touch the paper, I couldn’t resist feeling the rough texture of the Himalayan Daphne paper.

The title figuratively describes the process of dissolving the concept of an anthropomorphic God,” Sugden explains.

Pieces included in this collection are based on location drawings completed during Sugden’s twelve journeys in the Himalayas of India, Nepal, and Tibet.

Creating each page of this installation was a process of rediscovering the imagery from almost 40 years as a conceptual artist,” said Sugden.

When I walked into the Elzay Gallery of Art, I was surprised to find a circle of paper in the center of the room, contrasting to the usual display of photos on the walls. This was an intention from Sugden.

As an archetype of universality and wholeness, the circular form of the installation gives viewers a portal to enter, so they can move toward the center of the mandals,” Sugden explains.

Each page is gentle and specific in nature, yet embodies the nature of the Himalayas. The installation investigates the possibilities of breaking down the contrasts between thought and reality, a common theme throughout the entire project. The mind is free to experience the present situation, and become completely transformed into the worlds within the pages.

When viewers read visual elements intuitively rather than literally, the mind is awakened to its relationship to the world around it. Thus, a more primal holistic experience can occur,” Sugden concludes.

 Sugden studied in Paris under French master, Arnaud D’Hauterives. Since graduation from the New York School of Visual Arts and the Paris American Academie des Beaux Arts, Sugden has made twelve journeys throughout the Himalayas and Tibet, creating drawings on location. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and Chairperson of the Art Department at Bluffton University, and spends the majority of his time at his Findlay studio. 

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