Saturday, March 17, 2012

Inspiration from Sohan Qadri

I know I have been remiss in my blogging duties.  Although, I’ve not been writing lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about writing.  And I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike.

Inspiration is a funny thing.  I consider myself a marginally creative person, which means I rely quite a bit on truly creative people.  And I am always interested in what inspires them.  Sohan Qadri is one of my favorite artists.  He died just a little over a year ago.  But the works he left behind remain alive… vibrant evidence of his being… in every sense of the word.
Megha II
Sohan drew inspiration from within.  He submerged in deep meditation before painting or writing.  His resulting “canvases” are beautifully textural with swathes of color, intensely-dyed, saturated color, on wrinkly-fibrous, handmade paper.  Meditation enabled him to envision and artistically interpret… what do you call it?  The world’s energy?  A spiritual state?  The life force?  And he taught others how to meditate to expand their creativity.

It may sound hokey.  But Sohan’s paintings are pure abstraction and incredibly emotive.  Of course, they bring to mind Mark Rothko’s large color fields.  But they are something very different.  I suspect it has to do with their slightly smaller scale and the way color collects in the pockets and ridges where the paper has been serrated, almost carved, in very rhythmic patterns.  The paintings could be capturing landscapes or maps or conversations or heartbeats.
Dissolution III
Which leads me to think that Sohan also drew inspiration from his life.  And how could he not?  He probably drew inspiration from the lush Punjabi farmlands where he was raised; from what he learned in school and from yogis and monks; from his formal artistic training and friendships with fellow artists; and from travels in other parts of Asia, Africa, North America and Europe.  But perhaps he drew inspiration from just being aware and noticing things.  Noticing the interconnectedness of all things.

A recent visit to the Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden reminded me of Sohan’s paintings.  The lush colors of many orchids, the linear repetitions of tropical foliage, the intricate structures of spring blossoms… all of these reminded me of his work and the first time I experienced it several years ago.  Plants and paintings are somehow exotic, primordial and universal all at the same moment.  Not to mention so very gorgeous.  Does that make sense?

Abhasa I

Agni II

Bija II

Purusha VI

Puskara II

Stambha II

Sohan Qadri’s paintings featured here are available at Sundaram Tagore Gallery.  Sundaram Tagore specializes in the “exchange of ideas between Western and non-Western cultures” and has branches in New York City, Beverly Hills and Hong Kong.  They also participate in major art fairs throughout the world where they usually exhibit Sohan’s work.
From Confluence at Sundaram Tagore Gallery
You can learn more about Sohan from books: Sohan Qadri: The Seer and Seeker: The Art of Sohan Qadri.  And if you happen to be in Hong Kong this weekend, stop by Sundaram Tagore for Confluence: Sohan Qadri - Zhang Yu.  The exhibition runs through Sunday.

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