John Lindland paintings are based on an archetype, but his brush has a life of its own when on canvas. An exhibition of his works starts January 27

Everything in the world already exists in some form or the other, and we bring nothing new to it. We are merely privileged enough to be able to interact with and discover these archetypes and share them with others. This is the world view of John Lindland, artist, musician, globetrotter and traveller of roads untaken. John, whose choice words to describe his own paintings are ‘weird’ and ‘crazy’, is taking some time away from his paint covered den of creativity at Varkala to be at La Gallery 360 in the Museum Baines compound at Nanthencode, ahead of his forthcoming exhibition 'Electric flowers and other archetypes'.

The artist, who hails from San Francisco but has been spending a few months in Kerala every year since 2010, admits that he has been living life as dictated by his passions, which have led him to far flung places such as Australia, Barcelona and Berlin; making music, painting, and even opening for a Radiohead concert along the way.

“I have been painting for over 20 years, first as a means of relaxation while working on music, then taking it more seriously in recent years. I believe strongly in the concept of the archetype, and though my works are somewhat abstract, I always discover some meaning in them when I apply the finishing touches. I do not think I create these paintings, they make me dance to their tunes. When I feel stuck and unable to progress, it is their way of telling me that I am doing something wrong, that I need to modify something to discover the original archetype. These archetypes are my muse, and a harsh muse at that!”

A look at his work gives a sense of the journey he took to discover the figures that inhabit his canvas. Two humanoid figures share a space against a vivid backdrop of bright colours. Another of the figures reaches out and touches one of the exhibitions titular ‘electric flowers’. There is a sense of wonderment that one can imagine he felt when he created, or rather discovered, these particular archetypes. Freed by his brush, they now populate many more of his frames, showing him and by extension his audience, new things about their world.

Music was what started him off. Painting evolved later, helped along by the tutelage of Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, and has been vying for its share of his time ever since. Dividing his time between his passions was difficult for John, and it was his time in Kerala that finally solved his problem. “I came to India to learn more about Advaita Vedanta, and spent some time understanding the principles in the late 90s. But more recently, when I came to Kerala, the place stuck in my mind, so I rented a house and began working on my music here. Then I had to get used to the power cut phenomenon, and over time I started switching to my painting whenever there was a power cut, and back to my music when the power returned. Now I am much more efficient with my management, as I have completed a set of paintings for the exhibition and finished a musical project that has been on the back burner for nearly eight years,” he says with evident satisfaction.

What is next for the man without a plan? “I think I'll spend a little time working on my music now. I've been painting nearly 14 hours a day for a few months, so it is time I make a little music and relax,” he smiles. If the state of his art studio after all the intense work he has been putting in is any indication, it is probably for the best.

The exhibition will be held at the La Gallery 360, from January 27 to February 20.