PRAKASH N. CHANDRAS
Artist, Painter & Sculptor
Prakash Chandras immigrated from India to the United States in 1970. He finished a MBA in 1975 and continued to pursue a childhood passion of art. Art education was a goal always intertwined with other pursuits in his life since his childhood. For example while completing his MBA at University of New Mexico, he concurrently studied art, and then continued at the distinguished Art Students League in New York City. An MFA in Painting was completed in 1983 from San Jose State University. Since 1986 Chandras instructs studio classes at local community colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has instructed studio classes at DeAnza College since 1989. Today, the artist paints in all mediums portraits, landscapes, figurative arts, and abstractions. Chandras also continues to paint in his signature style of Linearism (painting completed using only parallel lines developed in 1975). Chandras has produced well over 1000 sheet metal, wood and marble sculptures.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Each image is carefully created layering experiences, thoughts and memories underneath. More expressive the art the more layers the viewers should be able to see (in their minds) As you go on and read the short descriptions of the paintings, you will know the sources and understand the process and the progression of linearism. Hopefully many layers that went into creating these images will also become visible to you.
These images come from my life experiences that I have had and emotional attachments I have made. The reason I choose to paint these images is twofold. First, since they come from my life, they automatically become my visual diaries. Every time I look at a painting that I have painted, it reminds me of the times when I painted it. It also brings back more detailed memories of those times. The feelings and the memories evoked are so strong that it allows me to time-travel back to the time when I painted it. Secondly, in each painting I try to go somewhere, where I have never been before. Let me explain. In the early works, when I was still studying various art elements the risks I took were with the parallel lines in the sky, or in the use of, unrealistically bright colors. Lately though, these art elements including art history are used in my works in more risky ways. They are churned in unusual ways, pushed to do something they (the art elements) have never done before. This results in the new images that neither camera nor real life can show you. I can honestly say that, these paintings are my true self-expressions and every time a new image is revealed to me I am intrigued and most delighted to share it with the viewers.
Well, actually it progressed very slowly. In 1975, I had discovered this new way of painting. After painting the first painting, I also realized that it was not as simple as it seemed. Towards the end of the year I was sent into an emotional vacuum after receiving the sad news of my mother’s passing away, in India. To fill up the vacuum I decided to paint something that would at least keep me wrapped in her memories. I had just finished my MBA in marketing and I should have been looking for a good permanent job. Instead I wanted to spend some time indulging in her memories. The cost of living was not that high in New Mexico and I could take the time to paint some paintings. I decided to paint the white flowers that bloomed only early in the dawn on the tree that my mother had planted in the atrium back home. I remembered looking at those flowers, when I was a child, with sleepy eyes in the early morning and it still being dark outside I could see only the flowers in an abstract pattern and not really seeing the tree or the leaves in the background. Just like my mother who always stayed in the background but flowers and fruits of her love for everyone were always abundant. I could see and feel her love like a constant abstract pattern unfolding in my life. With that painting I embarked on a series of paintings as homage to her.
This culminated into a series of 16 “White Flowers On White” paintings for a year and 1/2 later. This was a time period when I felt so lonely being away from my family and not able to travel back to India, that my paintings (and my life) had lost all the color. While painting these white flower paintings I felt as if my mother’s hand was on my shoulder. That is what brought me out of the deep grief I was feeling. During this time linearism was put aside. Then I moved to New York City in 1977. The colors started to come back and the cityscape reminded me of linear style. I decided to try the linearism again. East River with the U.N. building was the first linear painting I completed in New York. To my surprise it was sold almost immediately. That spurred me on to the linear painting path faster than anything else did.
When I lived in New Mexico during graduate school and later in New York. I used to have these FLYING DREAMS where I could just spread my hands like wings, lift my legs and fly. I used to tell Karen about these dreams. Anyway, in one of these dreams I flew and found myself with Georgia O’ Keefe in her studio in Abique, N.M. and we had a wonderful visit. Her Adobe house was two stories in my dream, and her latest painting that was on the easel, still wet, was of the mountains and the sky and a little adobe church in a New Mexico landscape. All was painted in parallel lines. The mountains, the trees, the sky, the tiny houses everything painted in parallel lines. The picture is etched on my mind. Next morning when I woke up I realized that, that was MY dream and MY subconscious showing me the way to paint. Well, I did not exactly realize that for a long time but I decided to paint the image from that dream in the linear style which I believe, was revealed to me. That was the first LINEARISM painting.
Like many incidences in history, Linearism was revealed to me in my dream. One example of this kind of revelations that comes to my mind is the plans for the stairway of the Lorentian Library that came to Michelangelo in his dream. The Library had been built earlier, but he was unable to design the entry staircase for nearly 25 years after. He sent those plans from his dream to Vassari in 1517. This and the other examples of revelations show the creativity of the subconscious mind. One needs the right kind of environment and the intellectual curiosity to kick the subconscious into the creative mode.
Yes, in fact, since I started practicing Linearism I have noticed that, quite a few artists have used parallel lines in their artworks. However, none has used parallel lines exclusively. There may be a handful who designed their artworks using parallel lines but no one has ever theorized the works in relation to the use of parallel lines.
There is a Miro landscape in the Guggenheim museum in New York with a country house that has a patch of colorful parallel lines in the foreground. Then Frank Stella’’s protractor series uses large parallel lines. Recently, I saw some Sol Lewitt abstract prints that had all very thick parallel lines in them. There are Morandi’s, low relief painted sticks sculptures and some of John’s paintings that have large linear passages in them. I have seen some Van Gogh landscapes that are similar in their application of the short brush strokes in the parallel manner. However no exclusive use or theorization is associated with the use of the parallel lines until my theory and practice of the Linearism.
Simply defined “any Artwork completed by using mostly (90%+) parallel lines”.
Well, it would be, if I could not back it up with solid body of 29 years of work. Not only that, I know I am on to something new, because I have taught art history survey classes from the Ancient through the Renaissance to the Contemporary Periods. I have never come across anything like what I am doing. It may take a little time for this linearism to become familiar, but as Jackson Pollock said, “all original becomes familiar”, I do believe in its originality and you will too, as you will get familiar with it. I only hope it will not take as long as it has taken for some artists’ works to be known, like Vermeer or Van Gogh.