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Tobias Tovera on meditation and engaging viewers with the forces of nature

As international art consultants, Artelier specialises in curating art and feature walls for luxury residential, hospitality, yacht and aviation projects. Artelier's feature wall collection – Artist Walls presents a collection of artists whose originality of ideas and dedication to their materials makes them true contemporary masters. Through collaborating with Artelier, they have created large-scale custom art commissions that reinvent the concept of the mural for the modern age, pushing the possibilities for feature wall art.

For Tobias Tovera, the process of creating artworks is as much an act of meditation as a creative process. The subsequent artworks present a powerful hypnotic energy that draws the viewer in, and reawakens our innate connection to the forces of nature.

His paintings are divided into two bodies of work: Diffusion and Permutation. Diffusion sees Tovera pouring pigment onto the painting's surface, gradually accumulating complex layers of infused colour. In Permutation, Tovera burnishes poured materials by lighting them on fire, and finishes the painting with a variety of crystallised salts. While differing in materials, the two series of paintings share Tovera's fascination with the cross section between nature, art and consciousness.

Painting from the Diffusion series

Could you explain how Diffusion and Permutation are similar or different, as two distinct practices within your work?

In the Diffusion body of work, it is very much about accumulation of materials, and primordial formations. You see that in both the Diffusion and Permutation series. In the processes, the techniques are similar but the materials are different.

Behind both is the idea that we can find consciousness or spirit in art. My aim is to create a portal or conduit with my paintings, so that the physical and the spiritual are brought together. Meditation is a big part of my life, and it informs my art practice. I studied Kundalini and still practice Kundalini meditation and Nondualism. I seek to create works that also have a charge or movement to them. They're mandalas in that way; they are similar to Tibetan sand mandalas or Navajo sand paintings with the use of the square and the circle. Creating abstract forms within that format is interesting to me as there is a sacred geometry to them.

Selected Paintings from the Diffusion series

Is the process of creating art itself a kind of meditative process for you, alongside the other meditative practices you explore?

Very much so, I often meditate before I start a pour. I ground myself beforehand. I talk about the third space, which is an in-between state. I find that when I'm painting, I'm in this in-between place. I call it the glue that holds everything together, or the space in between the notes. It is your inner presence, or being in the moment. My art has always been a vehicle for that.

Especially in the first layers of pouring, the process of creating the painting is more intuitive, and more visceral. My mind has some input, but then the material is chaotic. So it is an interesting dance between the artist's hand and the material itself. I can plan in the sense of making a general idea that I'm exploring, perhaps a shape or a colour, but the outcome often changes from the initial input. That is what makes the journey interesting.

Paintings from the Diffusion series

You imagine that the effect of viewing your paintings is hypnotic – what kind of experience would you like the viewer to have?

I want the work to have a hypnotic effect. In terms of a field of vision, when working in large scale you're able to experience the work in a different way. I'm now moving into a larger scale format because it's more immersive. Although, smaller, more intimate works are still engaging, I feel there is something to say for the architecture of a large piece, and how that experience can transport you.

I recently finished a Diffusion series called 'Metanoia', which means 'spiritual conversion'; they are multidimensional in the way that if you stare at them long enough, you are able to see forms emerge. There's texture happening in the background of the painting as well as in the foreground – because I'm using multiple gradients of grey and organic formation, they induce a meditative state. Working large-scale in that kind of format can enhance this trance-like experience.

Three Artworks from 'Metanoia' , in the Diffusion series

With the Permutation series, the paintings are much like crystals or something you would see in a cave environment, perhaps a limestone cave, or a volcano. Seeing these forms takes us back to nature, back to a kind of genesis, the primordial formation of our planet. It has an energetic feel to it.

In that way, is the connection with the planet and nature fundamental to your inspiration?

Very much so – recently, I've been interested in the intersection between nature, art and consciousness, and looking at the five elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Ether, which is space.