Elements of The Universe: Encaustic Wax Virtual Exhibition
designed and curated by Gil Dekel (PhD); paintings by Natalie Dekel (MPhil).
The nature of materiality
There are three chambers in this virtual gallery – consisting of the materials Earth, Air and Water.
The philosopher Empedocles of Acragas from Sicily (ca. 490–430 BC) asserted that matter consists of four elements: earth, water, air and fire1; a theory that was later supported and developed by Aristotle. The four elements concept has influenced the philosophical ideas that led to the development of alchemy.
The Four Elements
The four elements work together, as each contributes one aspect of creativity. They represent the four archetypes, or states, which together make the experience of living in our world. Their collaboration, together with the complexity and contrariety of each particle within each element, is what creates the equilibrium and harmony in the universe. There are also parallels in the study of the psychological behaviours of people. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that four elements archetypes (Quaternity) exist in everybody’s psyche. Once people balance their conscious aspects of these elements with their unconscious they then embrace the universal structure of all four elements and achieve balance and harmony2.
Some ‘Angels’ (for our purposes we call them ‘Angels’ but one can also say ‘forces of nature’ or ‘aspects of creation’) such as Angel Gabriel can be seen both as an aspect of Fire (purifying) as well as Water, which is a different form of purifying. Water operates more as a soft cleansing effect. Gabriel can also be seen as the aspect of Air, which teaches the perceiver how to see the light; to clear the veils of illusion and darkness off their heart.
Why did we not create a Chamber of Fire?
We have chosen to focus on the elements that reach inwardly, and these are Earth and Water, as well as on the elements that is upward-moving: Air. We felt that Fire element is too strong, as a cleansing burning force. Fire is all encompassing in relation to what we were trying to achieve in this exhibition. Our aim is to promote a gentle revelation of higher aspects of the Universe, of Universal consciousness via nature in a peaceful and harmonious way. Fire by its definition is explosive, unstable and volatile. It demands action and the braking of boundaries, whereas we wanted to focus in this virtual exhibition on the Universe within the boundaries in which we live. We wanted to experience the awakening to what is already around us, in a systematic, careful way.
The following analogy is a good illustration of why we chose not to include Fire: the ancient Egyptians and Greeks saw Love and Strife as two major powers that operate in the universe. They associated Love with the Moon (which is Water and Air) and Strife with the Sun (Fire). In our project we explore the aspects of the all-encompassing Love.
Why 360° tour? The inter-relations of the Elements
Water element is associated with transformation, diffusion and flexibility. Air is associated with changeability and integrity, and Earth is associated with structure and materialisation, pragmatism and realisation of dreams.
According to alchemical belief, a direct transformation of opposing elements from one into the other is possible only a rotation which is not directly between two opposing elements but through a rotation from one element to second, third and forth.
For example, Earth can be transformed into Water and then Water into Air. In this process, Earth becomes Air via Water. The higher the intensity of the previous element the greater the Universal energy in the following element becomes. This can be illustrated with the following idea: if we purify the Earth we then move on to have cleaner Water, which then brings about a higher and more intensely vibrating Air. Air would then raise the vibrations of the whole Universe, which in turn will create the Quintessence where the spiritual is penetrating and incorruptible emerges anew.
This is what we were trying to create in this exhibition. The elements flow from chamber to another in a circular way, and they rise in their intensity visually and energetically while inter-locking in a rotating motion. The user who view this exhibition navigate through it, revolving the chambers and in that way participates in the process of helping the elements flow.
The images of the Angels, created with the Encaustic Wax technique (Hot wax painting), are the fifth element of the Universe and its Harmony, in this exhibition.
Why Encaustic Wax paintings exhibition?
Out of the many available techniques of art that we could use (such as oil paintings, acrylics, photography, graphic design, films, poetry), we chose to curate the exhibition with Encaustic wax paintings (created by Natalie Dekel).
We feel that Encaustic Wax is a pure and intuitive form of art, since it is difficult to control the wax while one melt’s it on the card using hot iron. As such, Encaustic art feels inspired directly by the elements, as a ‘pure’ form that bypasses the artist. That is the feeling that one gets when working with this medium.
Chamber of Earth
The element of Earth can be said to embrace the richness of human subconscious and creativity. Its ruling Angel is Uriel, which is why we have placed him above all others in that chamber – his painting up high. He seeks love and purpose while removing barriers. His ability to oversee and balance feelings, places him on the top of the tallest tree in this chamber. Uriel helps to open the hearts and windows of the soul and to embrace light and laughter.
[UriEl. Hebrew: אוריאל The light of God.]
Earth element is concerned with the balance between the ‘in’ and the ‘out’ of the microcosms and the macrocosms of what is happening to the person.
We believe that all events and actions in one’s life are motivated originally by only one force which is love. Love then goes through personal filters, understandings and circumstances, and is veiled or become clouded. It can even turn into negative emotion, such as resentment and fear.
At that, the Angel Shamuel comes in. He is the second Angel from the top; his painting placed on the second tree. Shamuel urges to open one’s heart to the world and embrace the experience of living. He urges to look at things from above; from the perspective of love that transcends all and embraces all. He teaches how to leave the inner world of confusion and open up to actions and expression of love outwards. This is why we located his painting to the right side – the side of actions, as opposed to left side, which is the side of taking in, absorbing.
[ShamuEl. Hebrew: שמואל God is hearing.]
To the right from Shamuel (from the viewer perspective, looking at the paintings) is Angel Zadkiel. He speaks of the lesson of responsibility. Once a person acknowledges the love they want to give or receive they need to take responsibility for their actions.
Zadkiel brings a need to cleanse and detox. He helps in a transfusion to the next element of cleansing, which is water. For that reason we have placed him further to the right in the panoramic image, which is the point where the revolving chamber moves to the next chamber. Zadkiel’s purple light brings order to chaos (and this aspect of him links to earth, stability and structure). He protects and focuses on what needs to be done.
[ZadkiEl. Hebrew: צדקיאל The justice of God.]
The next Angel is Adamael. He stands on the earth and binds a person to Aleph. His physical shape resembles the letter A in the Hebrew alphabet: א ; the foundation of one’s reality. He asks one to review one’s actions and remind those who are lost of their position in the continuous movement and evolvement of Life. As author Paolo Coelho wrote in his recent book: life is like a continuous movement of a train. We may be in different compartments but we all move together and we need to take responsibility of what we bring to this train and its inhabitants.
Adamael is the first Angel one sees when viewing this exhibition online.
[AdamaEl. Hebrew: אדמאל Earth God.]
The Angel further to the left and touching the trees is Sandalphon. He is the protector of the Earth and its continuous creation. He reaches easily from Earth to Heaven and is one of the Angels that can go very tall or very small. His message is being judged by what one does, and not by what one says. Sandalphon is anchoring light to Earth which is why we placed him in the chamber standing on a patch of light on the green grass; embraced into Earth by the canopy of trees. Sandalphon helps us to anchor to Earth and become the conduit of light energy, supplying all that is required to achieve harmony and stability.
[Sandalphon. The name may mean love of actions.]
The next angel to the left is Haniel. He holds a gentle calming energy that subtly affects the person. Haniel helps one to understand symbolisms and gently steers one to manifesting one’s dreams into actions. This angel is overseen by Sandalphon and helps to mediate and connect the person to nature and angelic realms.
[HaniEl. Hebrew: חניאל The beauty of God.]
To the far left on a hill is Angel Daniel. He brings the ability to observe and comprehend in an un-emotional state the beauty and clarity of the celestial aspect of the world. Daniel brings down clarity and connectedness between the earthy world and the spirit world. His message is ultimate acceptance with no doubts, and as such, he removes shadows of despair and illusions. This is why we placed him on the grass bed where there is a strong duality shadow and light.
[Daniel. Hebrew: דניאל The judging aspect of God.]
Chamber of Water
The element of Water is the basic foundation of the Universe. According to Jewish tradition, God has created the world through water. He then separated it into two elements: the water below (the seas, Ma’im מים); and the water above (the sky and the atmosphere, Sha’maim שמים).
This element is creative and healing. It supports life in all its forms (plants, animals, the environment), and is also associated in many traditions with cleansing, removing negativity and cutting cords to what is no longer needed. Water continuously flows, removing obstacles on its way. In the Christian tradition baptism sees water as a purifying element, physically and spiritually.
Water element is directly connected to Earth element as it arises from the stability and solidity of the earth and gradually becomes more unstable, fluid and changeable. It symbolises a continuous process of adaptation and change.
Water is also associated with revelation. It removes obstacles on its way, and once it recedes it reveals what was hidden underneath. It demands clarity and action.
Water can be gentle and also powerful and destructive of what refuses to change and adjust to its flow. This is why we have placed Angel Michael as the first image that the viewer sees when they enter the chamber. Michael reflects the creative and fluid energy that runs in the creation of the world, flowing from God to life.
Michael brings the karmic law of Truth. He has an ability to protect by cutting off what is no longer needed or what brings fear to our life. His energy comes in pale blue colour along with gold and red and indicates courage and strength. He helps cleanse illness and bring change that one is waiting for. Michael helps people follow their inner truth.
We have placed him to the left of the scene, as the left side indicates intuitive and heart approach, something that has no control of coming from the head. Michael stands directly under a waterfall to indicate that a powerful flow can turn a gentle and soothing flow when the energy of Life flows through the heart.
[MichaEl. Hebrew: מיכאל Who is like God?]
Next to him, to the right, is Angel Gabriel. Gabriel embodies the power of Godly energy which flows in water.
Gabriel brings with him the lesson of Purity. He is in charge of purification, guidance and vision which all connected to the element of Water. He can help with detoxification and the cleansing of the inside and outside of the person.
This painting was created on gold paper symbolising the element of strength that is the core energy which allows people to be able to look into things that need to be changed. The paintings shows the face of the angel to suggest a mirror image of the viewer.
We placed the painting in the chamber next to a stone. The stone foundation reflects the strength within, which the water of creativity and purity then flow through.
Another aspect of the same Angel Gabriel is reflected in a second painting in this chamber. This painting is positioned at the far right end of the chamber, next to a waterfall. This second image of Gabriel portrays his whole body as a symbol of strength and determination, just like the waterfall. He brings wisdom and clarity with his power. He has the ability to illuminate the dark corners of existence and bring light that would innovate and purify the energy, so one can start again.
Gabriel helps to search the inner light that would sustain people’s existence. This image is standing on the right side of the chamber to emphasise the active strength, even that of the mind, which in turn can bring actions that may change one’s life.
[GabriEl. Hebrew: גבריאל The strength of God.]
Water represents freedom and independence. It can bring care and wisdom, tranquillity and healing to restore what was once lost. This is why we have placed Angel Rafael to the left of Angel Gabriel (on the right side of the chamber). Rafael teaches health, balance and cantering that bring wholeness.
We have positioned her amidst calm water with golden fish swimming below. This indicates healing and tranquillity of the body, while treating life like a temple.
[RafaEl. Hebrew: רפאל The healing properties of God.]
Angel MapaleyEl vissualises the idea that sitting by a waterfall brings out a feeling of Universal beauty. She raises awareness that life is about simply Being, becoming aware of all levels of Life and starting to listening to truth. MapaleiEl helps us slow down, focus the awareness that permeates the Universe. She brings the strength to observe Life as an experiential lesson, coming from the essence of Life itself. MapaleiEl brings with light of transformation on the level of emotion, leading to actions and transform life.
[MapaleyEl. Hebrew: מפלי-אל The waterfalls of God.]
Chamber of Air
The element of Air focuses on the philosophical and spiritual aspects of Life, and helps us transcend the boundaries between the various levels of existence. Air is a power without which Life as we know it on Earth cannot exist. However Air is also a realm that can appear solid (as in clouds and the formation of colours or rainbow) yet is also insubstantial and denotes the essence of transmutation.
Within Air realm it is up to the observers to decide whether what is perceived is the shadow or the light, the power to destroy or the power to create. This is why we have chosen to depict sky formation that has both light and shadows in it with the sun shining through in the middle.
The fragility of Air enables the duality of existence to come forth. The division between non-beneficial choices that come from ‘the prince of the power of the air’, and the enlightening choices that inspire and raise the vibration of the psyche to see the world in its wholeness, the beauty.
This duality is why we have chosen to put Angel Yofiel, the governor of beauty, as the largest image in this chamber. Yofiel brings the lesson of waking, the playfulness and the childlike enthusiasm for Life, light and laughter. He is enclosed with yellow light which wakes souls from their slumber, and focuses the human awareness to the Light and beauty of Life.
Yofiel invokes light in a human heart and flooding it to the brims with Love. He brings the realisation of Being Alive and instigates the process of growth on several planes of existence aided by various other angels.
[YofiEl. Hebrew: יופי-אל The beauty of God.]
The second largest image in this chamber is of Angel Gabriel. In this chamber Gabriel brings with him the purification on the level of thought and unconditional Love. He holds the rainbow of colours that would flood the person’s consciousness, bringing with him the winds of change.
[GabriEl. Hebrew: גבריאל The strength of God.]
To the left from Gabriel is Angel Zadkiel. In this chamber he is the transmutter of moving from darkness into the Light. His purple light strikes through the bringing of illumination, insight and inspiration. Zadkiel brings with him the lesson of responsibility, cascading order into chaos, and shined protection with clarity and focus. He removes blockages and offers support on our chosen path.
[ZadkiEl. Hebrew: צדקיאל The justice of God.]
Between Yophiel and Gabriel nestles Angel Rafael, just to the left from the sun. Here Rafael brings healing on emotional and spiritual levels. He helps nourish the seeds of talents, and abilities, helping one to utilise Light and Love into a proactive energy that would bring healing. Healing comes to the person who requested it, together with the ability to carry on and share this energy with others in like situations.
Rafael helps to see the true Being through the veils of illusion, by giving confidence to see the pure and true, and understand by clearing the mind. She helps to ground us and improve the spiritual perception as a gateway to the spiritual realms.
[RafaEl. Hebrew: רפאל The healing properties of God.]
To the far left of the chamber is Angel Shamuel. He encompasses the pure unconditional Love that is at the core of the Universe. We placed him on the left as the left side is the aspect of being that bespeaks of emotional intensity, of inner turmoil and how people perceive their reality.
Shamuel’s energy is golden, pink, purple and orange. It clears the illusions of loneliness and depression, and enables one to truly Love themselves and others in a way that transcends all barriers. He helps one open their heart wide and embrace the experience of Life in whatever way it comes. The experience of True Love transforms any shards of pain into pure Light. The clouds behind him in this chamber are parting under the influence of his presence to reveal blue sky and freshness.
[ShamuEl. Hebrew: שמואל God is there.]
To the far right of the chamber is Angel Selenniel. Selenniel is raised the highest in this chamber because he overlooks the lessons of the past and helps people release and transform the past into the present. Selenniel does so by removing negativity and pain bound to memories of the past, and so leaving only the wisdom and light of the past experience.
Selenniel brings with him the lesson of remembrance and understanding why we have come to Earth and for what purpose. His gold and green/blue light heals as well as transmutes any experience into the Light. He reminds us of the Light flowing in our body and helps us shine once again when we have forgotten how.
[SelenniEl. Past transmutes into Present.]
Angel Uriel reminds us of our powers and that we are safe at all times. He helps us establish stability and brings understanding and calmness. In this chamber Uriel helps the observer to connect to the spiritual realms through the path of the inner strength and individual shift in consciousness. He insights the divine action which quickens the energy of the Universe to and align all vibrations to those of the Light.
[UriEl. Hebrew: אוריאל The light of God.]
In astronomy we say that the rotation of the elements in the Universe brings about the deformation as well as evolution of stars. Likewise, this art project asks you to consider how the continuous rotation of spiritual realms and physical aspects of reality (such as basic foundations like Earth, Water and Air) bring a shift to your perception in the way you see the world and what we can do to change it for the better.
1. Campbell, Gordon. (2005). Empedocles (c.492—432 BCE). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 28 Oct 2011, from: http://www.iep.utm.edu/empedocl
2. Jung, Carl. (1963) Memories, Dreams, Reflections. London: Collins and Routledge & Kegan Paul. Page 354.
© Natalie and Gil Dekel. 24 Oct 2011. Updated 19 Nov 2011.
This virtual exhibition consists of Angles paintings in Encaustic Wax, as well as a few hundred outdoor photos we took to compose the backgrounds for each chamber. Our thanks to the professional guys at tourvista who took our panoramic photos, and rendered them 360 degree.