Bengaluru artist Andrew Paul’s ‘Transcending Surfaces’ exhibition explores time and memory

Andrew Paul’s final India show ‘Transcending Surfaces’ uses abstract art, video and found objects to explore time and memory

Updated - May 13, 2024 10:46 am IST

Published - May 11, 2024 08:25 pm IST

Andrew Paul

Andrew Paul | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts included Andrew Paul’s works in 2016. His painting, ‘Mighty My Saviour,’ was listed below one by the celebrated MF Husain. Another work by him, ‘Redemption,’ also forms the cover of a book written by prominent Canadian-based Indian professor, Clara Joseph. But he does not really want to talk about these achievements.

Then, there are some incredible stories. Like how a random Facebook post of his paintings, which he did to get a few likes, fetched him his buyer: a psychology professor in the US, who called his paintings “medicine.” Andrew shows the texts of the professor, who had multiple sclerosis. 

On another similar serendipitous occasion, he told his sister, “Some rich guy will buy my paintings someday.” She laughed. Sometime later, Indian billionaire Ajay Kalsi brought his paintings. 

“I hadn’t heard about the book The Secret. But I always felt I manifested things,” he says.

He narrates these nuggets of anecdotes during a short tour of his latest exhibition, Transcending Surfaces, at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath on a cloudy Thursday evening. This will be his final solo exhibition in India before he moves to London this year.

However, Andrew is more excited to discuss his works than anecdotes and achievements. That, he says, is what matters most to him.

Andrew Paul’s work, ‘Above and Below’

Andrew Paul’s work, ‘Above and Below’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

His abstract paintings are not easily accessible. One of his works in Transcending Surfaces, ‘Memory of the Pandemic’, is vertical frames of red paper with horizontal scratches.

“These works on paper were meticulously created during a period of personal anxiety,” explains Andrew, “The pandemic had locked me down, preventing a return to London. The news was filled with death, including the loss of close friend’s father-in-law to COVID-19 and its complications.”

“Each night, as a way to cope, I performed a disciplined ritual. I took a piece of paper pre-painted red (red signifying flesh and its various interpretations – not just pain or agony) and meticulously marked its surface with a surgical blade. The act felt similar to prisoners marking time in the absence of calendars. We had calendars, but the pandemic’s end date remained unknown.”

Though this might seem therapeutic, Andrew reckons his artistic process is different. 

“In both therapeutic and my own approach, which is abstract, you can’t completely control the result. In therapeutic art, however, you express what’s inside you immediately, without much control over the process. It is like an outburst, while my process involves some calculation. I plan the tools and techniques, but the final outcome is always a surprise.”

Transcending Surfaces attempts to create a journey beyond the confines of a traditional art exhibition. Andrew transforms the gallery space into a portal of visual contemplation through an interplay of large-scale paintings, video essays, and found objects. His works, marked by diverse styles, delve into themes of time, impermanence, and the fleeting moments that shape our existence.

For Andrew, the idea of art is about challenging how we see. “The exploration of my practice is about questioning and reconstructing the ways of ‘seeing,’” he says, “Through a conversation and an interaction via a painting, a photograph, a drawing, or a film.” He begins with a visual symphony of colour and texture, gradually building layers that transform into evocative imagery. The artist’s choice of materials is deliberate, each chosen for its textural qualities and the unique sensory experience it creates.

This is why Andrew requests — no, insists— that the viewers not take photos of his paintings with their phones. “We are increasingly becoming this society that loves to record than experience. Just come, spend some time with the paintings, engage with it, and see what it tells you,” he says. 

“Don’t just look but listen with your eyes.”

Transcending Surfaces by Andrew Paul will be displayed at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath till May 15 at Gallery 1 and 2, 10.30am to 7pm. 

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