Portrait of an Artist
Marlis Ladurée or the Divine Communion
You enter her workshop, high up on a top floor on the outskirts of Paris, as if you were entering a celestial palace. The ceilings, walls, fabrics, even the china and mosaïcs - the whole interior decoration - sparkle with stars. Such is this somehow out-of-the-world peaceful place where Marlis Ladurée creates her Mandalas. In sanskrit, the sacred language of Indian Brahmins, Mandala means 'circle' and, more accurately, 'holy' or 'magical circle'.
Born in West Berlin, Marlis Ladurée arrived in France in 1978, where she was to become one of the first artists to paint contemporary Mandalas. Of her first experience with the 'magical circle - the esoteric diagrammes', she says :
'25 years ago, although I had been a student in design and fashion illustrations, I was already keen on Asia. My soul probably comes from there...' Inspiration struck in 1989, during a lecture she was attending as part of her course with Shri Mahesh French Federation of Hatha Yoga. Actually, this subject was to become the theme of her academic paper 'Mandalas and Yoga for Children'. Hence also the title of her first creation, 'Mémoire'.
Looking back, we can see that her early works followed a logical sequence, still inspired by temples - temples dedicated to the body first, then those of Indian mythology and eventually cosmic temples.
For Marlis Ladurée, who identifies with the symbol of the rose (the Eastern equivalent of the lotus), 'Painting is an opportunity to free one's impressions, to receive and transmit messages as well as images from the subtle world.' Creation is ruled by a very specific ritual : 'I light candles, burn incense and put on some music (mostly mantras).
I enter a meditative state and, facing the white canvas, with the palette in my hand, standing midway between the sky and the earth, I let the divine forces guide me.
Somehow I kind of leave this world for another universe where I listen fully. I ask for grace so that the creative energy may use me as a pillar, as an instrument, so that I may receive what this energy wants me to turn into matter. I never know in advance how the canvas will evolve... when the technique gets intricate, I use yogic postures and breathing.' It is more than just an art, it is a communion with the divine !
After a period when she incorporated Venetian glass or semi-precious stones into her oil paintings (which have been exhibited at the Unesco in Paris, in the United Nations in Geneva and at the Grande Arche roof-top in La Défense), the artist completed her studies at the Louvre workshops and dedicated herself to the glaze technique.
This technique has been used extensively by great painters since the Renaissance (Raphaël, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Ingres, Titian, etc), and can be defined as "a very diluted oil paint, with little pigment, which can be applied in successive layers. This gives an incredible depth and transparency to the canvas because the tones are created by superimposition.' The technique, however, is exacting - in between each layer, the canvas has to dry for at least two weeks.
'Of course, this modifies my way of working', Marlis explains as she points to the high piles of canvases heaped in her celestial palace/workshop. 'But, thanks to the glaze technique, light coming across the surface of the canvas, instead of bouncing off, emerges out of the painting like out of a Cathedral stained-glass window.'
Article : Gwenaëlle Jourdain, journalist
Photos : Michel Lidvac
Translated by : Laura Elkaim
To see the paintings : click GALERIE
A beautiful book and a 12-card pack :
Les MANDALAS contemporains, miroirs de la paix,
Librairie de Médicis editions : click EDITION
Contact and information on future exhibitions: