Using Nepali paper, natural pigments and dyes, a group of European and South Asian artists are currently in Nepal producing abstract paintings of extraordinary range and depth. For each artist in this collective enterprise, a dominant characteristic is at play: for Jac Gijzen it is energy; for Peter Schenk, it is space; for Rob De Graaf, it is dynamic order; for Prakash Chandwadkar, it is the originating thrust of the stroke, and for Laila Mookerjee, it is the priority of colour. Together their work portrays the possibilities of abstract art. Some paintings are already on display at Siddhartha Gallery, Baber Mahal Revisited and work in progress can be seen through 7 February across the street at the Nepal Art Council, Baber Mahal.
The artists intend to exhibit throughout the world, expanding the number of participants, using abstraction to explore the guiding theme of the project they have initiated: "Beyond borders and boundaries". Paralleling their borderless journey is an inward exploration of the psyche and the world it encounters through colour and form. Though this is a group enterprise the questions raised and the execution of their painting is decidedly and idiosyncratically individual. We can determine this for ourselves by visiting the artists as they work. The completed exhibit, including an installation by Rolf Kluenter, known for his work on Nepali paper, can be seen at 4 pm on 8 February.
The viewer can gain from the openness of this project not only insight into the execution of abstract art, but a genuine appreciation of what is at stake for the artist in his work. The work-in-progress displays a confrontation with an inner state that has as its basis a common underpinning, and yet an individual characterization and resolution. Even as the artists are speaking of the world, of nature and of human emotion, their mode of expression establishes a universal system of signs based on the interplay of colour, shape, space and movement. Jac Guijzen, drawn to Hindu and Buddhist symbolic sources, establishes a dynamic that is shocking and playful. Intensely embodied in his colours, he places himself in a dimension that holds together through the encounter and stasis of his circles, squares and oblong shapes.
Peter Schenk like a Zen contemplative at the river's edge knows well how all things fall in place over time, if one allows space its due. His emotions do not crowd the paper he works on, yet emotion is evoked, and through whatever arises, always human in its reading, a balance is achieved. Rob De Graaf establishes within the framework of his painting a confrontation with chaos that is always orderly. One can hear the music behind this dynamic of circles and organic forms. Jac Guijzen works where the elements are in turmoil, Peter Schenk where they are in harmony, Rod De Graaf where they are performing a suite. The syncopation of his ordered chaos charms the viewer, already charmed by the pastel allure of his paper.
Prakash Chandwadkar feels embodied entering the painting through the movement of the brush against paper, and the encounter of paint with paper replicates his inner world. For Laila Mookerjee, the absence of stroke, the absorbing of stroke into colour, the merging of colour into light, a sheen of many colours, a single evocation of color establishes a world of primal beauty. Here the courage of Jac's and Prakash's work and the harmonies of Peter's and Rob's work are unified and transcended. What Rolf's installation will add to this exhibit we can only assume will be the richness of the Nepali paper he works on and his sure sense of how to use that medium to advantage, with colour, with simple form and the elaborate interplay of both.
This project offers to the viewer an opportunity to enter the rich and unfolding world of the abstract artist.
Siddhartha Gallery, Baber Mahal Revisited
Nepal Art Council, Baber Mahal