Chennai artist Narayan Lakshman explores Zen through abstract expressionism in debut solo show

Step into a realm of vibrant hues as artist Narayan Lakshman unveils his debut solo exhibition, Zen of Art, at Chennai’s CP Art Centre

February 28, 2024 05:01 pm | Updated March 01, 2024 09:16 am IST

First Light of Dawn — Acrylic on Canvas by Narayan Lakshman

First Light of Dawn — Acrylic on Canvas by Narayan Lakshman | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

For 10 days starting March 1, Chennai’s CP Art Centre will play host to an art exhibit by artist and journalist Narayan Lakshman. Themed the Zen of Art, the exhibition features 26 abstract expressionist works with some colour blends that aim to bring a sense of tranquillity to the viewers.

After having his artwork displayed at the Madras Art Weekend and at Gallery Veda, the upcoming exhibition will be Narayan’s debut solo show.He says that when gallerist Nanditha Krishna, head of C P Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, along with curator Kausalya Santhanam approached him to do a solo show, he knew little about the challenge. “You need to have a certain number of works, and within those, you need to display a range of qualities, techniques, materials, and composition, to keep all viewers engaged with that one artist’s work, which is quite challenging,” explains Narayan.

In total, 26 paintings are set to be featured at the Shankuntala art gallery, of which 19 have not been displayed anywhere else so far. “The sheer shortness of time pushed me into a prolific mode, and I have produced 10–15 works in the last two months.” he says. Some of these works even seem to have pushed the artist outside his comfort zone. “For instance, one of the works is done through this technique called negative painting, in which instead of applying forms positively, you work on the background; and what remains when you fill out the background is the form.”

But what was truly challenging about this journey, Narayan says, “was to articulate what my oeuvre is going to be, and what my body of work stands for. It’s easier to say that I was inspired by Zen Buddhism and Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, who himself was inspired by Zen and then added to it his unique take on landscapes. But I had to force myself to go one step beyond to understand the value addition that I bring in. In a solo show, people look out for that.”

Halcyon Days— Acrylic on Canvas by Narayan Lakshman

Halcyon Days— Acrylic on Canvas by Narayan Lakshman | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Nanditha Krishna adds, “he is not a professional artist, so he did not know what was expected of him artistically, and was very receptive to ideas. I liked working with him because we are not commercially inclined. We work on promoting art and artists, and Narayan is the same way.”

Zen Meadow — Acrylic on Canvas by Narayan Lakshman

Zen Meadow — Acrylic on Canvas by Narayan Lakshman | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

What Narayan brings to the front is a fresh look at Zen. “While Zen in a sense is all about the frugality of form and composition, I have tried to open up Zen in terms of bright colours and expansive compositions.”

The Zen of Art will be on display at the Shakuntala art gallery, CP Art Center between 10:30am and 7pm from March 1 to 10 (including Sundays). All paintings exhibited in the gallery are for sale.

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