This video shows the painstaking creation of a highly detailed sand mandala made over a period of 10 days by Tibetan monks dropping a single grain of sand at a time into the design. When it is finished, it is prayed over, and thereafter immediately, ceremoniously destroyed as a reminder of the impermanence of all things. I understand the symbolism, but it still makes me gasp.
I feel the same way about the salt creations of self-taught artist Bashir Sultani. He has made at least 100 videos of his salt “paintings,” but many of them begin with the ending – a view of the finished work, and a sweep of his hand showing the viewer that they really are made of salt and can be destroyed in an instant. Gasp.
I have found precious little biographical information on this 30-ish artist. It seems he was born in Afghanistan, grew up in Russia, and now lives in Toronto. He has no formal training, but began drawing with a pencil from an early age. He started salt painting about half a dozen years ago, and uses more than 100 colors he mixes himself. It takes him 1 – 5 hours and enormous patience to make the paintings with salt, Q-tips, a sharp edged tool and his hands, but the time lapse videos show the start-to-finish process in 3 – 5 fascinating minutes. We especially liked this video of sushi and this one of steak, but there are dozens more. And yes, this portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. was also created by him with salt.