Mark Engel’s digital paintings are based on pre-existing images and photographs. By manipulating these cultural artifacts he develops a search for the abstract within the concrete; creating abstractions with new metaphorical meanings that reflect social, political and economic issues.
In these works, Mark did a contemporary research and rereading of Tibetan thangkas, paintings on fabric, usually representing a deity, Buddhist scene or mandala, focusing especially on thangkas that depict the dharmapālas, the “furious” gods and defenders of Buddhism.
Dharmapāla means “protector or defender of Dharma (cosmic law and order),” in Sanskrit. They are typically deities represented with furious iconography in the Mahayan and Tantric traditions of Buddhism. Although the dharmapālas have a terrifying appearance and countenance, they are all bodhisattvas or buddhas, personifications of compassion who act furiously for our benefit. Their appearance is not intended to scare, but rather to convey the willingness and strength needed to overcome and remove the powerful obstacles in the face of our spiritual progress.
Mark also makes a connection of these works with Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell not only through the symbols of death and hell but also inherent concepts of final judgment and universal justice.
2019, Installation photographs, Centro Cultural Correios RJ, Rio de Janeiro Brazil