I do not know why I paint what I paint. Most of the time I have definite visions before making a painting. There are obscure sources, intuition, instinct, inspiration or indulgence. It reminds me of Mirza Ghalib, the eminent Urdu Poet of the 19th century, who said,“My thoughts and imagery come from the sources unknown. Ghalib, is only the screech of pen—like voice of spirit benign.”
To dwell further on this, let me reflect on my process of painting. I find that often I have deviated from my original direction, both in terms of form and color. For example, I would start a painting in red, but finish it with black, and paint unexpected things as finishing touches. Why? From where do those finishing touches come? Was it my work itself or something else inside directing me? There is no answer. Nevertheless, such experiences allowed me to discover that all the extended physical contact with my painting, transferred through my brushes or fingers, would bring more of me into my works. This may sound like I am referring to some kind of inexplicable and obscure magic, but art can be both. Most of the time, I strive to go beyond the mundane, crossing at times into the subconscious.
As an artist, I have been influenced by everything I have seen, heard, touched, smelled and felt. It was only after I knew how to paint that I found how much it takes before I reach the point of signing a painting —the ultimate pleasure. Symmetry can be bilateral or dynamic—rigid and well-defined or absolutely fluid. A center becomes a Bindu (point), but it has to have a circumference. Both center and circumference have to interact in my paintings; they are meaningless without each other. When I painted nature I found that everything in it is governed by an order. And the geometry of my paintings was also present in it, but I did not want to copy nature, but rather recreate it. I have wanted to invent, not chronicle. When you are painting, it is karma (work); when you finish, it is a lucky gift.
To be born in India was not my decision. It has nothing to do with my intuition and imagination, which are not bound by nationality—they cannot be. When painting my Mandalas, I light the torch to find the way, step by step, until I reach the altar.
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email Om Prakash