Circling the Square

Sofia Minson


Limited Edition Giclee Print

Printed on smooth bright white rag paper 300 gsm matte finish. 

Edition of 95, individually signed and numbered and printed in New Zealand. 

Size 1: measures: 809mm x 500mm.

Size 2: measures: 1152mm x 712mm.

Canvas: currently not available, but please do make an enquiry if you are interested.

Choose from unframed or paper prints are framed overmatted in the frame shown.

There will be an additional 10 days delivery for framed prints.


The story of Circling the Square

This is a cosmic portrait of the divine and the manifest. The spiritual and the material. The yang (masculine) and the yin (feminine).  

Male and female portraits

The male portraits represent a heavenly element such as Rangi. The female portraits personify Te Kore, The Void. She could also be Hine-nui-te-pō, Great Woman of the Night, or Papatūānuku, our Earth Mother.

Their faces were inspired by dozens of 19th-century black and white photographs of Māori, pieced together to become something entirely new in the process.

The spirit and the square

Placing the repeated male and female portraits inside the wheel of circles and squares forms a mandala. In Hinduism and Buddhism, mandalas are sacred geometric symbols that represent the cosmos and are used to aid meditation.

The goal of Spiritual Alchemy is not to turn lead into gold, but rather to "circle the square" and "square the circle." The circle being spirit and the square being matter. It is a geometric analogy for integrating spiritual and physical realities into one balanced Self.

The Flower of Life

In the very centre of the painting, there are overlapping, intersecting circles in gold. This mathematical pattern is known as the Flower of Life. It is found in most ancient cultures across the globe, including 'laser-burned' into granite at The Temple of Osiris in Abydos, Egypt. It is a shape that contains secrets about the building blocks of our universe.

Print and paint

The technique used here fuses digital and analogue. It repurposes  pre-existing symbols in my work - the male and female portraits - and places them in a fresh context.

They are forms that I hand-painted at a large scale using watery washes of flashe (vinyl paint) on canvas. I took high-resolution digital captures of the painted portraits. Using digital technology I created a repeating four-sided mandala pattern.  Having printed this on canvas, I created the rest of the composition by hand using acrylic and flashe paints.

The portraits in this new context, take on a more complex meaning in relation to each other.


The white-tipped huia feathers indicate ascension.  Manu Huia travelled through the twelve heavens from the uppermost, to our earthly realm, and back again. He was charged with delivering a message to Tāne, that it was time for him to come and receive the baskets of knowledge.

The material realm

Four toko (props or posts) were employed by the god Tāne to support his father Ranginui above his mother Papatūānuku. Hence my use of the square in this painting to represent the material realm, in which we live. The toko are the four winds of space that come from the north, south, east and west. We owe our lives to those four winds, for without them there would be no air for us to breathe. They drive the clouds across the heavens and lessen the heat of the fiery sun.

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