“In the gap between thoughts, nonconceptual wisdom shines continuously.”

Most of my collage work begins with found or gifted materials. These can either be trash, books or debris left on the street, or gifts from friends or family. I collect what I find and then reference my archive to compose symposia of objects or ideas—faces, artifacts, art works, symbols. I allow myself to play with collage cut-outs in a flow state that is both rational and spiritual. Some artworks are quite meticulous to create and can take months to complete, but in their repetition invite prayer, mantra, and total presence.

Concepts garnered from Buddhism like the intrinsic unity of emptiness and compassion inflect my practice, as I reflect on life, death and other, class and its contingencies, non-duality, the world and its inhabitants, myself, and the quantum cosmos. I use mirrors to reflect the Buddhist tradition that often employs them to describe the nature of reality, and I use doubles both to question the inherent selfness of anything, and to employ the bodhisattva’s method of explaining the same thing in two different ways. Through my radical presence as artist, I give refuse a new significance and value, just as one can see beauty and/or emptiness in the lowest winter thistle or the highest solid gold toilet.

This empty space is the ground for the arising of the entire universe. For example, it is like a mirror being the ground for the arising of a reflection, which has never existed as anything other than the mirror. It is like water being the ground for the arising of the moon’s image, which has never existed as anything other than water. And it is like the sky being the ground for the arising of a rainbow, which has never existed as anything other than the sky. This space, since it cannot be injured, is invulnerable. Since space cannot be conquered or destroyed, it is indestructible. Since space abides as the basis for the unfolding of the world of appearances and possibilities, it is authentic. Since space cannot be altered by flaws or positive qualities, it is incorruptible. Since space is free of transition or change, it is stable. Since space completely permeates even the tiniest subatomic particle, it is in all ways unobstructed. And since nothing whatsoever can damage it, space is in all ways invincible.

Due to the predominant condition of the perception of an inner ‘I,’ the realm of phenomena manifests as something ‘other. This is like the appearance of a reflection through the interdependent connection of a face and a mirror coming together.

Consider the fact that no matter how many planets and stars are reflected in a lake, these reflections are encompassed within the water itself; that no matter how many universes there are, they are encompassed within a single space; and that no matter how vast and how numerous the sensory appearances of samsara and nirvana may be, they are encompassed within the single nature of mind (sem-nyid).

The nature of mind, referred to as ‘buddha nature’ (de-sheg nying-po), is openness (khyal-wa) unsullied by flaws. For example, even though buddhas might fill space, there is openness in that there is no one or no thing to be benefited by their timeless awareness and enlightened qualities. Although there may be ordinary beings equal to the limits of space, each with an individual mindstream, there is openness in that there is no one or no thing that can be harmed.” -dudjom lingpa buddhahood without meditation

Whether we speak of matter or spirit or mind or anything else, the fact remains the same: we cannot say that they are; we cannot say that they are not. We cannot say that they are one; we cannot say that they are many. This eternal play of light and darkness—indiscriminate, indistinguishable, inseparable—is alsways there. Because of it the universe appears real, yet at the same time not real, aNd we appear awake, yet at the same time asleep. This is a statement of fact, and this is what is called māyā.

We are born in this māyā, we live in it, we think in it, we dream in it. We are philosophers in it, we are spiritual men in it, nay, we are devils in this māyā and we are gods in this māyā. Stretch your ideas as far as you can, take them higher and higher, call them infinite or by any other name you please—even these ideas are within māyā. It cannot be otherwise. The whole of human knowledge is a generalization of this māyā, and attempt to know it as it appears to be. -swami vivekananda


pau pahana is a berlin based artist, designer and musician. pahana was born paul tyree-francis in 1982 in wisconsin, usa. he took an early interest in art, focusing predominately on painting and drawing. pahana graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from the university of wisconsin-madison in 2004, focusing in printmaking and digital media.

thereafter pahana moved to brooklyn, ny, where he founded his design studio ‘paul diddy design‘ in 2005, and shortly thereafter began creating designs and album covers for the record label luaka bop. while in new york, pahana focused primarily on creating music, which culminated in the album ‘riff raff.’

at the end of 2005, pahana moved to oakland, ca, where he began painting the triptych ‘it is not farand making paper collages.

in 2007 pahana moved to berlin where he created the albums elaborate and trance send dental before moving to los angeles in 2008 where he dj’d for dublab and continued painting ‘it is not far‘ and making collage objects.

pahana returned to berlin in 2009 where he opened the art project space golden parachutes with jesi khadivi. pahana had his first solo exhibition ‘spectral alphabet‘ at golden parachutes in july of 2009.

in 2011 pahana moved to san francisco, continuing to paint and make collage. in 2012 he began his book of collage ‘is is‘ while on sabbatical in europe, which he finished in 2014 after returning to berlin. while in san francisco, pahana as paul diddy made the album covers for the much renowned who is william onyeabor? and my name is doug hream blunt

back in berlin, pahana finished ‘is is‘ which was subsequently featured in 2016 as an installation at the 5th biennial for young art in moscow. also in 2016, pahana began creating totems on found objects like boards, glass or mirrors, finishing his first totem how high the moon? at 5am before a flight to dublin. in 2017, pahana as paul diddy created the album cover and packaging for the ecstatic music of alice coltrane turiyasangitananda.

since this time pahana has been creating the collection of totems, mirrors and objects entitled ‘watch watcher watching watcher watch.’ in 2020 pahana as paul diddy created the album cover for promises by floating points, pharoah sanders & the london symphony orchestra with artwork by julie mehretu, which continues to garner many accolades.

pahana is primarily interested in exploring the concepts of being, time, space, energy, consciousness, spirituality, religion, justice, culture, capital, craft, class, the commons, cosmos and the unknown.

pahana is married and has two young sons.

contact: om ((at)) paupahana ((dot)) org