Abstract of an artist

Features Issue 133 Nov, 2012
Text by Isha Gharti / Photo: ECS Media

The source of any art form worth serious consideration or contemplation has to be profoundly pure and honest. In Puran Khadka’s latest paintings The Conscious Self –Wholeness, one finds that the source is a cognizant mind which conveys an eternal truth in a language that is all his own but still universal in appeal.

The Conscious Self - Wholeness is a two part painting that sums up everything that Khadka has to communicate as a person and as an artist. The first part, The Conscious Self is about finding yourself and explaining it.In this painting one finds the artist’s discovery of the self and the elucidation of that hidden store of virgin material which one carries within oneself, and to which one must find a path. The second painting is a reflection of that discovered self.Here one uncovers the depths of the artist that dictates the intentions of his work -- an abstract of his lifelong struggle and an ultimate realization of the self. Together these two paintings converse the voyage of a conscious mind that finds the wholenessas the self. After the discovery of the wholeness there is nowhere else to go but to remain in that eternal bliss.

Grey, black, white and red are quintessentially Khadka’s colors. These colors take individual definitions on the artist’s canvas and become metaphors of his understanding. The dark floating lines separate one color from the other. However, it is these lines that weave the artist’s assorted imagination. More often abstract artists employ colors spontaneously which makes the content of the painting formless.Others make use of geometrical shapes in their canvas. Contradicting the first method of painting, the second method is more calculative but contrary to both these forms, Khadka’s paintings are neither spontaneously done nor have in them precisely calculated geometrical shapes. More than spontaneity or calculation the artist believes in making use of an inner awareness of the self which cannot be random or measured. This unique quality sets him apart not just from the contemporary abstract artists in Nepal but the world over.

Puran Khadka found that to realize the self, one has to go through one’s own intellect. And that intellect comes with discovery of a no-mind mind. The mind of a man is the greatest of unexplored territories; it is there that the greatest of discoveries are made. For that discovery of the intellect one has find his own language. For the artist it’s these four colors: grey, black, white and red, that are the alphabets which he uses to frame sentences and create a story on his canvas.

The evolution of the artist’s art is unthinkable without a parallel internal development of the artist.That is why the painted work and the painting man are identical. Khadka has been painting for almost four decades now but in his initial years he just liked painting; it was merely an interest he had, child’s play as he calls it. With time that interest turned into a powerfulmedium for a quest in finding himself. Great discoveries are made slowly and there is no eureka without a long and tedious preparation behind it. It took him years before finding the rationale to his life. In the course of his early life he kept questioning the purpose of his life or for that matter the purpose of anyone’s life. He perpetually thought of the possibility of an ultimate secret that needed to be discovered.  And through these continual contemplations he discovered that there is a purpose to life after all and that the purpose is to find the self and that to know the self is in fact the greatest secret; the self is the wholeness. Wholeness in turn is the amalgam of everything and that life is an opportunity to do the essential work of unraveling that secret. The self is endless, an eternal truth; this is the secret man needs to explore. Once man realizes this he realizes that life, death and all the rest of it is just a lie, simply an illusion.

Puran Khadka says that whatever that can be seen is ephemeral, it has no eternal existence. That is why he changed mediums from figurative to abstract paintings. It is his medium to explore the eternal life that cannot be seen without an open mind and eyes often closed. Life is about duality that contradicts each other. It is when one goes beyond this duality and sees oneness in all that he finds the ultimate. He finds that differences onesees around himself are in fact the different possibilities to understand this wholeness. Once the ultimate is found there is an eternal joy, joy after a painful triumph over the borrowed perceptions of the self. No matter how the world continues outside, there is this persistent eternal bliss which transcends material comforts and discomforts.He comprehends that this process is difficult, like reversing everything and still making sense of it all. But the ultimate is simple and perfect. If one understands the simplicity he understands the perfection and with perfection comes the great eternal peace. Life is essentially same for everyone; every man is a world in himself, full of astonishing potential. For that reason life is an opportunity for every man to find the essential, the indispensible. In case this opportunity is missed, life as it is has no meaning. The artist stresses that although it is widely accepted thatno understanding can come without a guru(master/mentor),one also has to understand that the guru cannot be found outside but that the atmaan (self/consciousness) that is inside us all itself is the guru. Organized institutions and the outer world can only do so much to push one towards the path;the journey has to be made alone. The process of self discovery can start only with the self continues within the self and remains with the self.

Puran Khadka has found that eternal bliss within himself and one finds it in his work.His painting is that of awareness, however dim or hard to express in words, of profound nature, of a secret union between the artist and the art integrally itself, to the exclusion of any other alliance.His art is grafted on to some richly-endowed sensibility which is both honest with itself and capable of giving and communicating with the outside.His paintings do not have elements that undermine the world, instead they are a powerful medium of understanding the world to reach the absolute.

Perseverance and patience are what has led the artist to where he is now as a person and as a painter. He was never in a hurry to reach anywhere,the least to join the crowd. He carefully orchestrated his steps towards his creative consciousness.He followed the very process that lead to this composition step by step, carefully apprehending it from the inside before portraying it outside on his canvas.He took several years in taking each step, painting and meditating, formed his language and then condensed it into visible form.His belief is that nothing is randomand everything has a disciplinewith a purpose to it.

In times like these when success is measured in terms of how many and how much, when one’s work is dictated by the scrutiny of one’s audience, Puran Khadka seems to have risen above it all. Much like himself his paintings are not loud. They are peacefully silent yet speak of the basic and unprejudiced nature of existence. They are simple, honest and complete.It bequeaths us an infinitely precious legacy, though only few eyes are seeing it and few ears hearing it.