CALLIGRAPHY SERIES PAINTINGS 2016
Last winter in Del Mar, I set a goal that on return to BehtaPani, a different painting approach would be taken. The idea of applying a Zen No Mind aspect of my meditation practice to my artwork came to me while sitting. So, this somewhat contradictory focus of No Mind has informed these paintings. I?ve been amused by the conflict of attempting to release my cognitive functions with a conscious instruction. But to my surprise something different has evolved after many years of focusing on the energy field aspect of Nature: an integral part of my seeing/being. My painter?s mind is always observing, sketching, drawing, painting with a mix of intention and abandon (i.e., the energy fields for decades). Now, the implied goal is more abandon with the underlying years of discipline to let go further. Letting go is one of the great benefits of aging, knowing that The Big Jump is coming.
My deep appreciation of Japanese aesthetic and its minimalist expression in art, architecture, fabric, pottery, and calligraphy has always been a source of great delight and wonderment. It is the freedom of a Japanese master?ssumi-ebrushstroke. So, this too was part of my conscious/subconscious processing. I began with oil studies on clay-coated paper of my beloved Himalayan stream, the Hirub, and then worked on canvas. They named themselves:The Calligraphy of Water.
Unexpectedly, my good friend, SanjeevaPandey (a senior official in the Indian Forest Service), invited me on a road trip to Leh and the mysterious Nubra Valley in the Ladakh High Altitude Desert of the Trans-Himalaya. We spent a week traversing rough roads across very high passes, many above 14,000-15,000 feet. Khardungla Pass, at 18,380 feet , is the world?s highest motorable road. The geology, geography, and landscape blew me away with the complexity of form, shape, the forces of plate tectonics, and orogeny (mountain building) all in play. The Earth?s palette of sienna?s, deep umbers, sands, violets, grays, and blacks dapped by cloud shadows moving was a psychonaut?s dream. Mother Earth?s supra-world was easily accessed by just breathing and gazing in and out and beyond the vast Trans-Himalayan vistas. The intense cobalt, pollution-free sky, with towering thunder-head cumuli, high wispy cirrus, and slate stratus clouds was a constant drama: heat energies and water vapors rising, falling; breathing all around and through me.
I returned to BehtaPani fired up to paint, but had to leave immediately for the city of Chandigarh (on the Punjab plains) to help Kamla. Concerned I would loose the powerful inspiration of Ladakh, I brought my art supplies and though preoccupied daily by pressing issues, managed to do many oil studies on clay-coated paper that became, The Calligraphy of Mountains Studies. Then while painting these oil studies, clouds appeared over the mountains in blue washes and white billows, inspiring the subsequent The Calligraphy of Clouds Studies, which will begin in 2017.
These studies are the basis for the canvas paintings shown here. Though the idea of a mind more released and freer has begun, it is clear that the Calligraphy Series will inform my on-going work in new and liberating ways: an unexpected Gift, informed by intention and moving towards letting the same go.