When I first encountered one of Sohan Qadri’s paintings, I was plunged like a pebble into a still pool, radiating ripples of bliss.
An overstatement? I don’t think so.
The effect was profound, even if the words I use to capture it fail.
“A synthesis of emptiness and peace, radiating power,” is what Qadri is trying to express in his art, he writes.
”Art can have the same effect as meditation,” he tells us, “but only if we drop our constantly interpretating mind and learn to simply see . . . . This can happen if you grasp the painting at a subliminal level, let it filter in through your pores.”
With me at least, he succeeded.
His work is made from thick soft paper deeply saturated in brilliant colors, punctuated by ragged tears and rips, wavering furrows and trails of tiny pinpricks, like scattered drops of light–or bread crumbs — leading toward the vast unconscious.
“When I start on a canvas,” he explains, “first I empty my mind of all images. They dissolve into a primordial space. Only emptiness should communicate with the emptiness of the canvas.”
“People are always interested in dreams. I am interested in the question: ‘Who is the dreamer?’” Qadri writes. “I would like to know: ‘Who is the artist behind the artist?’”
When I entered his painting, I felt the presence of the artist behind the artist.
I think I was drawn to his work because when I’m writing, in some way, I am always trying to do that as well, tap into the writer behind the writer.
At my best writing, I feel as if it’s not “me” writing, but something writing through me, beyond me.
As writers and artists, I think we are seeking to move beyond ourselves, dip our pens and brushes into the deep storehouse of the unconscious, the rich field of the imagination, where colors and forms and images and emotions flow.
Readers and art lovers are also seeking to move beyond themselves, to be swept away into other worlds–magical realms or gripping tales created by words, or rich fields of form and color beyond conceptual thought.
The best writing, the best art, for me is when we feel the presence of the creator behind the creator, and recognize, if only for a moment, the face of our larger selves.
This post was first published in a slightly different format in June 2013.