I studied painting and printmaking at New Delhi College of Art in the 1960s, and although at that time I was primarily a painter, I was always fascinated with the etching process. When I arrived in New York in 1969 as the quintessential penniless artist I looked for the cheapest materials I could find; so I picked up a piece of plywood, put some ordinary glue on it, drew a pattern in the glue, and took a “mono-print” by hand. As I continued to experiment with this simplistic technique, my artistic future as both painter and printmaker unfolded before me. I embraced the use of modeling paste on canvas or wood for my paintings, through which I discovered a range of artistic flexibilities — I could create soft planes as well as sculpted-looking forms with modeling paste, gesso and oil paints. This process led me toward the incorporation of three-dimensional elements in my paintings and toward the original mono-printmaking technique which I eventually devised. My interest in creating 3-dimensional surfaces on paintings and prints was further enhanced as I moved into sculpture, becoming a proficient stone carver and welder of steel. I “welded” together my 2 and 3D work — but in my own manner, an approach through which I create an imaginary 3D world on two-dimensional planes.
Once I had settled on this technique, I combined my delight with my new-found textured surfaces with my passion for landscape painting by artists such as Turner. Most landscape artists present their source of light from outside the canvas, shining down onto their imagery, as it were. I wanted to explore an abstract approach to working with the bold light sources and energy of Turner, but from within, not without, my canvases. I wanted the light in my canvases to emerge from within the forms themselves, to be a metaphor for the way in which the natural elements of the world combine to generate light, heat, and energy. My Light Series paintings from the 1980s, enormous canvases that appear to be rocks floating in space, found that light and energy on an artistic cosmic level. Over the last several decades, my imagery has changed as I move ever more deeply into the interior of my forms, questing for the finite details, but the blend of light, color and texture have remained my métier.
My upbringing and formative early years in India were my artistic foundation. Even though many viewers find it hard to discern this in my paintings and prints, if one looks deeply enough the influence is there, particularly in my use of color. India is a veritable subcontinent of color! Almost unconsciously I have found a way to express my universal themes through a blending of traditional Eastern color and textures with a Western abstraction vocabulary.