My paintings appear almost ‘minimal’, and yet they come through a process of elimination. Most of them have many layers underneath. The painting is always in charge. Rather than imposing a particular agenda on it, I like to enter the piece from a point of departure, and from that beginning moment it becomes a collaborative dance. The end result is often SO FAR from where I started. One thing I find fascinating about painting is that it’s such a process of discovery. I’m not in the least interested in imposing an idea or conceptual agenda on my work. What I want it to do, is to reveal something to me that I couldn’t have known before I began. It is through engaging in the process itself that a direction forms, and often I find that multiple elements of my experience - visual, relational, day-to-day, contextual, and even psychological and spiritual ambiguities that I may be working - get funneled into this language of paint. The painting process synthesizes this multiplicity of my experience into a coherent image -- a resonant field -- that gets mirrored back to me in a new, essential and pared down form.
Painting for me is relational … it’s a call and response kind of activity. It takes time to listen deeply to it and hear what it is suggesting. I learn about myself, and the way that I see, through the process of working. I seem to pare things down to essence – eliminating and refining until it can’t get more essential - and then I can leave it alone. There seems to be this quality of going from the complex to the simple, from the particular to the vast.
Even the paintings that appear visually complex … when you stand back and look at them, they have a fundamental simplicity in their overall composition, and usually some primary pillars of orientation.
Persistent visual concerns in my practice over time have been—the dynamic tension created between poles such as simplicity and complexity, paring elements down to essence, and using form – the materiality of the paint itself—to point toward that which is formless.
- Amrit Rai
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