Milan Fano Blatny





In the Tibetan tradition, mandalas are representations of the spiritual embodiment of the Buddha, who, in his enlightened form, is no longer in< the world. In the absence of his physical body, the mandala represents his 'body of enlightenment' and is the essence, the centre, of life. All Tibetan monks are required to learn how to construct mandalas as part of their training - including the basic structure (meaurements and proportions), and the process of construction (accuracy and precision). Mandalas can then be used in the rituals of tantric initiation and means circle, community and connection in Tibetan text - Sankrit.

Fano's images have the basic structure and process of construction as their core, but with contemporary icons which reflect issues of international concern, or are familiar to many throughout the world. The process of producing them is a ritual in itself - one image is made and repeated another three times, to create an image which is symmetrical from every direction, but always with the core, the centre, as the meeting point, the fulcrum of unification.

Its possibly difficult to imagine such a spirtual symbol made from motor car lamps, dogs or Islamic robes, but these have the same resonance as those made from rocks and other natural forms which defy exact definition - all titled with either the names of places across the world where the original image was made, or some essence of buddhist belief. They are there to be contemplated and then considered. Not only as images but also as concerns for humanity. Some glow from the centre, others come together in symmetrical patterns at the core, all reveal an opening, or 'door' on each side, a way out into the world.

At a time when the world is divided by greed and lies, war and politics, these images remind us of universal forces which become blurred or forgotten as the pace of life increases. They remind us that at the core, the essence of life is its simplicity, and its joining together with others. The quiet beauty of these images is overwhelming, not only in their content but also in the ritual of process and production. They forge the ancient and the modern with a spiritual and photographic alchemy which is at one with the essence - the centre of creativity.

Mandalas was discovered at Fotofo 2003 - The Month of Photography in Bratislava, where Fano was the winner of the Portfolio Review prize, a show of his work at Fotofo 2004.


Text by Rhonda Wilson,

director and head curator of Seeing the Light  and Rhubarb-Rhubarb Photofestival, Birmingham, U.K.