The House of the Self (1971)

laffoley_1971_House of the Self.jpg
laffoley_1971_House of the Self.jpg

The House of the Self (1971)


Oil, acrylic, ink, and vinyl lettering on canvas, painted wooden frame

73 1/2 x 49 1/2 in.



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Subject: On the Lawn of the Spiritual Abode.

Symbol Evocation: Homage to Ramana Maharshi, the Great Seer.



According to Vedic astrology, the first house is the House of the Self. My painting The House of the Self describes the soul’s arrival into life on earth as a physical body—or the becoming of the ego—reflected in the Crystal Mirror that is behind everything. The parts of the body correspond to the five senses, the five elements, and the five Lams of the chakras. Below the images of the five parts of the body is an abstract grid that represents the mind’s ability to think mathematically—or the Number Intellect—number and mathematics being what abstraction is all about. The Number Intellect arises from the Soil of Sisu, or the perseverance of the rational mind. The Eye of Transcendence in the upper mandala, above a lotus leaf, is awakened by destiny. If you are asleep, the only thing that will wake you up is destiny, the ultimate wake-up call.

The House of the Self is the third painting of mine that was commissioned, paid for, and eventually returned to me without my having to return the purchase price. My only explanation as to why the buyers did this is the fact that I gave them more than they bargained for. I guess what they actually wanted was an illustration of a personal belief system they had adopted and would outgrow after a while. The painting would then act as a memento of a step in their mental “development.” What they got from me, instead of a souvenir, was an idea that went beyond their initial creed. This was particularly true of religious beliefs imported from the East, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Zen, aspects of which have literally invaded Western worldviews over the past century and a half, including advanced scientific beliefs. Personally, my father began instructing me in many of the traditions of Asia when I was seven years old.



Paul Laffoley: The Sixties. Kent Gallery, New York, 2009.

Paul Laffoley: Secret Universe. Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, 2011.

Paul Laffoley: The Boston Visionary Cell. Kent Fine Art, New York, 2013.

Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque. Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, 2013.

All Watched Over. James Cohan Gallery, New York, 2015. Curated by Tina Kukielski.



Kittelman, Udo, and Claudia Dichter, eds. Paul Laffoley: Secret Universe. Cologne: Walter König, 2011, p. 29, ill. p. 106.

Peetz, John Arthur. “Paul Laffoley.”, January 26, 2013. Accessed January 26, 2013.

Roulet, Sacha. “Selective Utopia.” idPure, no.11, 2007, ill. p. 7 (color).