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

The bustling art scene of Chennai is set to welcome a new aesthetic voyage with the opening of ‘The Zen of Art,’ a contemplative exhibition by the talented artist and journalist Narayan Lakshman. The display will commence at the esteemed CP Art Centre on March 1, inviting art enthusiasts into a world where abstract expressionism and introspection converge.

For a period of ten remarkable days, visitors will be graced with the opportunity to experience 26 unique creations that exude a serene and tranquil atmosphere through their innovative use of color blends. Narayan’s ability to translate meditative qualities onto canvas is the result of an intricate dance between palette and imagination, making for an exhibit that promises to leave a lasting impression on its audience.

This event marks Narayan’s first solo venture, following his successful showcases at the Madras Art Weekend and Gallery Veda. Reflecting on the lead-up to the exhibition, Narayan expresses a candid insight into the pressures and revelations that come with preparing a solo show. “The challenge lies in presenting a cohesive collection that showcases a diversity of techniques and compositions, all while maintaining a consistent personal artistic statement. This is quite the endeavor when all eyes are on a single artist’s work,” he shares.

Comprising 26 paintings housed within the charming venue of the Shakuntala art gallery, 19 of these pieces will be making their public debut, with the remaining having previously captivated audiences in group exhibitions. The artist reveals a period of intense creativity fueled by imminent deadlines, “The pressing timelines ignited a creative spur whereby I churned out 10–15 pieces within the last couple of months alone.” Among these pieces are works that saw Narayan venture beyond his familiar terrains, including a foray into negative painting – a technique that inverts traditional painting approaches by rendering the background as the site of action, allowing forms to emerge spontaneously.

Curatorial insight provided by Nanditha Krishna, head of the C P Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, is both a testament to Narayan’s openness as an emerging artist and the synergistic nature of their collaboration. “Working alongside someone who is not primarily an artist offers a refreshing perspective. Narayan’s receptiveness to artistic guidance aligns with our foundation’s dedication to nurturing true creative expression,” she comments.

Approaching Zen – a philosophy deeply rooted in simplicity and intuition – through the lens of abstract expressionism is no small feat. Yet, Narayan’s interpretation expands the boundaries of traditional Zen aesthetics, incorporating vibrant hues and expansive canvases. This unique treatment serves to both honor and innovate upon the minimalist essence that defines Zen artistry.

Narayan’s endeavor encapsulates a personal quest for artistic identity, honing in on his inspirations from Zen Buddhism and venerable artist Vasudeo S. Gaitonde whilst adding his distinctive flair. “The challenge has been in articulating my personal contribution to the artistic conversation. It required me to not only acknowledge my sources of inspiration but also to transcend them in creating something inherently mine,” he contemplates.

Visitors to ‘The Zen of Art’ can immerse themselves in this transformative collection at the Shakuntala art gallery, CP Art Center, from 10:30am to 7pm daily, including Sundays, between March 1 and March 10. The exhibit offers the rare chance to not only view, but also acquire a piece of Narayan Lakshman’s resonant work, as all paintings showcased will be available for purchase. This exhibition is set to be a sanctuary of the arts, encapsulating the boundless tranquility that only a harmonious blend of Zen and artistic vision can provide.

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