Saturday, December 31, 2016

to tucson and back: highlights and thoughts

It's been almost a month since I got back from Tucson. After the feverish pace of the past few months, I took it easy these last few weeks; to collect my thoughts and renew myself for new work.

I began the year asking myself an important question. What was the exhibition at The Drawing Studio going to be about? The answer came slowly. The more I thought about it as time went by, the more I was convinced about the idea. ((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) captured what I had in mind. The title itself comes from a painting from late 2013, but its essence is something that I often see in my work. Working towards ((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) was a lesson in focus. To see it come together into a coherent form was equal parts satisfying and daunting.

I found myself focusing on the idea in other ways. While I worked in the studio, with the music of Max Richter (The Blue Notebooks and Memory House), Dustin O'Halloran (Lumiere and Vorleben) and Radiohead (A Moon Shaped Pool) playing, I realised that many of my favourite tracks in these albums were minimalist and quiet, strong and aglitter. Something about their starkness and simplicity helped me articulate my thoughts about looking, about distances, about opposites, about contradiction and unity. There were books that I read or reread this year that strengthened my ideas about what I wanted to communicate - The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley, The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster and For the Time Being by Annie Dillard. I wrote posts like Silent, Empty and WildWhen you Paint and The Endless Ocean that were explorations of those ideas. It felt like I was taking something and turning it around in different ways to understand and process it. 

The opening reception for ((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) was well attended. The feedback I got about my work was generous and enthusiastic. What words can describe the feeling? To see that the work done in the solitude of the studio can touch another person. 

I also gave a talk at the opening, which went over my beginnings as an artist and the work I did then. I talked about my time in Tucson and at The Drawing Studio, the lessons I learned in Josh Goldberg's class, the work I've been doing for the past few years and the work in the exhibition. 

The Drawing Studio did everything to make the exhibition and the opening perfect. They also did a Q&A with me in preparation for the exhibition and published it on their blog. You can read the interview here.

((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) was the highlight of 2016. But another major part of my life this year has been Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. Last year I was selected for the Studio Internship at Pyramid Atlantic. That internship was the beginning of a friendship with some of the most creative, funny and supportive people I know. Once my internship came to an end, I began volunteering, and eventually became a staff member early this year. After spending most of my time in the studio, I look forward to my time at Pyramid. For inspiration, fun and lots of work. It has been so wonderful to work for a cause that is close to my heart.

On that happy note I will take your leave. Happy New Year dear reader. I hope that 2017 is a year of simple joys, good work and focus. May our personal quests be our true north. May barriers fall, and love shine. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

((mountain x crow x echo)) exhibition postcard

The date for my exhibition at The Drawing Studio is getting closer. I am busy with last minute preparations, and I leave for Tucson in a few days. Also, the postcard for ((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) is here! Do come for the opening on December 3rd if you are in Tucson.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

exhibition: ((mountain x crow x echo))

I have been waiting to share some wonderful news. I am going to have my first solo exhibition this December! ((Mountain x Crow x Echo)), as the exhibition is called, will be held at The Drawing Studio (TDS) in Tucson (Arizona). As some of you may know, I was a volunteer and student at TDS while I lived in Tucson. It is where I studied abstract painting with Josh Goldberg.

((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) opens on December 3rd and will continue till January 16th 2017, and will include paintings, drawings and prints. I don't have the exhibition postcard yet. But here are the details of the show on The Drawing Studio website:

((Mountain x Crow x Echo))
Paintings, Drawings and Prints by Priya Vadhyar
Dec. 3 – Jan. 16, 2017 
Opening Reception: Dec. 3, 2016, 6-8 PM

Abstract artist Priya Vadhyar will exhibit her paintings and prints that evoke dream life, landscape and mystery. A graduate of the University of Mumbai, and a former student of TDS faculty member 
Josh Goldberg, Priya now resides in Columbia, MD, so it is a treat to have her back in Tucson for this exclusive show. 

About ((Mountain . Crow . Echo)) 
((Mountain x Crow x Echo)) is the meeting place of the minuscule and the towering, edge and void, known and unknown. It is both stillness and chaos, presence and eternity. The intersection of restraint and spontaneity, foresight and hindsight, inside and outside. Emerging from contradiction is a meaning elusive yet tangible - a becoming of something that already is. 

I'll be off to Tucson in a few weeks - to put up the show and attend the opening. I will also be giving a brief talk on opening night. If you're in Tucson or thereabouts, please come to the opening! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

the universe in a room

"S. lived in a space so small that at first it seemed to defy you, to resist being entered. The presence of one person crowded the room, two people choked it. It was impossible to move inside it without contracting your body to its smallest dimensions, without contracting your mind to some infinitely small point within itself. Only then could you begin to breathe, to feel the room expand, and to watch your mind explore the excessive, unfathomable reaches of that space. For there was an entire universe in that room, a miniature cosmology that contained all that is most vast, most distant, most unknowable. It was a shrine, hardly bigger than a body, in praise of all that exists beyond the body: the representation of one man's inner world, even to the slightest detail. S. had literally managed to surround himself with the things that were inside him. The room he lived in was a dream space, and its walls were like the skin of some second body around him, as if his own body had been transformed into a mind, a breathing instrument of pure thought. This was the womb, the belly of the whale, the original sire of the imagination. By placing himself in that darkness, S. had invented a way to dreaming with open eyes."

- Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


As I wait
for tomorrow's sorrow
on the windowsill alights
a sparrow
straw in beak.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

the endless ocean

I have a memory
of a distant future -
I look up at the sky and see
an unending vastness 

I imagine that if you were to set your eyes on the endless ocean, there could be two possible reactions. You would either be terrified or you would feel a great calm. No matter what your reaction, you would understand what you were looking at. To conceive of its boundaries would be a futile attempt. And your conception of time and relative size would crumble. You would see yourself in these limitless depths and recognise your place in it all. It would seem like a meaningless accident or a grand miracle. Or both.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

pulp painting

Papermaking is one of the many things I have tried my hand at in the past few months at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (PAAC). And then a few weeks back Gretchen Schermerhorn (Artistic Director at PAAC) introduced me to pulp painting, a technique that involves the use of coloured paper pulp on damp handmade base sheets.

For pulp painting you need two things: pulp paint and base sheets. The first is your medium, the second is the surface you paint on. Pulp paint is very fine pulp that is made by beating fibers in a Hollander beater for a few hours before adding pigments. You also add something called formation aid that helps with better flow and bonding.

For the base sheets, I used abaca fibers that I beat for a couple hours. I then used a mould and deckle (a wooden frame with a screen and another frame that sits on the mould to hold the pulp) to make sheets, which you then couch on a damp pellon (polyester sheet). You build layers of sheets and pellons to create a post, which then goes into a hydraulic press to remove excess water. (If you want to know more about how paper is made, you can check out a cool video on papermaking and a glossary of common papermaking definitions here.)

You 'paint' by pouring pulp paint on the base sheet in layers. It's a lovely loose way of painting since the pulp paint is quite watery. You can also create specific shapes by making pellon stencils. You can be Pollockesque or Frankenthaleresque or (even better) do your own thing. The basic idea is that the pulp paint sits on the surface of the base sheet, layer after layer, and then fuses with it. Once you are done painting, you put all the sheets in the hydraulic press to get the excess water out. The last stage is putting these sheets in the drying box.

Below are some of my pulp paintings experiments. More to come for sure.

silent conversations
pulp paint on handmade paper, 17x22" 2016

pulp paint on handmade paper, 15x18" 2016
degrees of separation
pulp paint on handmade paper, 17x22" 2016

pulp paint on handmade paper, 18x15" 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

the distant other

the distant other
24x18" acrylic and ink on paper, 2014 

Deep in the puddle
the heavens - 
along its ripples
one orbits 
the distant other.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

when you paint...

When you paint, you walk out the door...
...Into the hurried blur of the busy streets, the little shops and big buildings, the cars, and dogs walking their people. Later, you find yourself in a bus, which turns this way and that, until finally the city is behind you. The view changes to green fields and wild flowers, and a large sky that is a wash of blue. The view is wide, and it makes you not-think. You get off the bus when the urge strikes. Standing there, in the middle of nowhere, you look around to take in the view. Soon you are walking. Maybe something far away catches your eye. Now you find yourself climbing a hill and down the other side. There is a dirt road leading to a farm. Along this dirt road you see cows grazing. You stand there, enjoying the scene and the sounds of the earth. Some time later a farmer drives your way, and you hitch a ride. You say goodbye as you get off near the railway tracks. The winding track is quiet, without traffic and goes on for miles. On either side are tall trees obscuring everything else. You come to a tunnel. Inside the tunnel the air is damp and there is a deep darkness that seems to go on forever. But soon you come out into the sunshine. The clouds in the sky are moving just as you are. Up ahead, you see a dusty old sign post that says '...... Trail'. Intrigued, you take this trail through the woods. The birds are chirping, and a deer stares at you as you walk past it. The evening light, orange, peeps through the trees. Now, night is falling. You don't know where you are, but you sense you must keep walking in a certain direction. Suddenly you reach a clearing. It's a meadow. Stepping into this clearing, you see the lights of a town far away. Then you look up at the sky. The same sky that was a brilliant cornflower blue is now a deep violet. The stars are out, and they are twinkling.

When you paint, you walk out the door and then come back inside.

Friday, March 11, 2016

under dark skies


Under dark skies,
the sound of the ocean
and dancing flames
remind me of something.

*A layer of a painting painted over (detail). Like the memory of a passing cloud.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

exhibition: roll it out, ink it up

The Allegany Arts Council is hosting a show Roll It Out, Ink It Up at Saville Gallery in Cumberland (MD). The group show is a continuation of the exhibition Roll It Out!, which was part of the print symposium at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (PAAC) in November. The exhibition showcased the work of demonstrators and speakers at the symposium. The same show is now on in Cumberland with the addition of a few more artists from PAAC. I am really excited to be part of this wonderful exhibition, in which I have three monotypes on display.

I have been working on monotyoes since December, experimenting with both oil-based inks and acrylic paints. For the exhibition, I decided to show the ones made with acrylic paint. As a printmaking medium, acrylic paint is both challenging and satisfying. I like the painterly effect of acrylics, in addition to the texture and vibrant colours. On the other hand, the paint can dry too quickly while working. I plan to try acrylics with a retarder to see what results emerge. For now I am happy with the outcome, and glad that some of these experiments are part of the exhibition in Cumberland.

The opening for Roll It Out, Ink It Up is on Saturday February 6th between 6 and 8pm and is on until February 20th. Below are the details of the exhibition.

the starling paradigm
monotype, 10x8", 2016

an unfolding
monotype, 10x8", 2016

monotype, 10x8", 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

nowhere but here

A ruin in the wilderness
the tall grasses bending
a chirp and a rumbling train far away 
I have nowhere to be
but here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

the underbelly

the underbelly
watersoluble graphite on paper, 18x24", 2013

Like a magpie, I collect
unlikely treasures 
the electric tower against the sky
the unpainted building
the abandoned railway station.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

silent, empty and wild

On the silent mountain
the snow
embracing the wind.

It's been snowing incessantly since yesterday. Outside, the snow is piling up into interesting shapes and the wind is blowing the powdery snow in every direction. The snow has created a hush, a dampening of sound. This makes me think of snow capped mountains, where there is no one. Only the wind blows, and the snow gives this invisible wind a dimension. I am thinking of the emptiness and wilderness. I am thinking of the vastness that puts one's life into perspective. There will always be (I hope) places like that - silent, empty and wild.