Vermeer 30 is inspired by Fudo Myoo, who is one of the five Wisdom Kings in Buddhist texts. This panel references a 12th century sculpture in the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Onshi, which has carved and painted flames behind the figure, framing its distinctive and fearsome facial expression.
“Fudo Myoo (the Immovable One) is one of the powerful deities known as the Five Bright Kings in Japanese Budd
hism and folk religion. As a manifestation of the central cosmic Buddha Mahavairochana (Japanese: Dainichi), Fudo is believed to protect Buddhism and its true adherents.”
The glass is painted and then drawn into, to echo the movement in stylised flames. This work has copper leaf gilded onto the reverse to make the colours glow and radiate warmth. In the museum, I saw screens which had been gilded and then overpainted with images. The overall effect is of a reverent and gentle radiance, which both reflects the light and has it’s own luminosity from beneath the surface.
The Oceania Series of Vermeer reliefs
Rebecca Newnham 2020
The Vermeer series is a series of curved relief panels. Their reflective glass surfaces refract the room or the environment so that the viewer’s perception switches between the image and the reflection. Each piece starts by painting onto glass with enamels, which is then fired to fix the pigments into the glass. The glass is then cut and collaged to create a faceted, pixilated image. The shape of each Vermeer is a shallow, tensioned curve, like the lens of the eye.
The Oceania series is a group of works that reflect a trip to Tokyo and to Auckland early in 2020. Most have a relationship to water – either a beach, a lake, or the ocean – and to the natural and spiritual world. As Covid-19 was taking hold and the virus spread, they served to emphasise the value of the fiercely protected, unspoilt natural beauty of New Zealand and the restraint, focus and social consciousness of Japanese society at a time when the whole world is looking closely at itself and revaluating.
Medium: Enamelled glass, timber
Dimensions each: 920 x 920x 100mm