Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kali in the round

ABOUT THE CHAPTER SILHOUETTES (Kali in the round: 14 silhouettes), in Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West. Rachell Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Kripal (Eds). pub. by Univ of California Press.

My work incorporates my interaction with a broad range of media, suitable to bringing out energies manifest in ideas that relate to what I call “meshes of the continuum.” These meshes are a weaving of my mind, experienced through being touched by truth — a flow of relationships and events stemming from the evolving archaeology of my existence that began in India. I draw and paint to realize fragments and wholes, through a layering process using traditional as well as digital media. “Layering” is a metaphor to express whatever I wish to contain in space: the memory of time, deity, culture, power, and compassion, and my existence as a Christian amid myriad religiosities. These elements are brought together spatially in what becomes for me a layered mandala. I use color as discrete units of energy in an attempt to portray an ineffable, archetypal numinosity. I assign meaning to evolve a new whole, energized by my breath and charged with a vision from a sanctuary of “knowing.”

To arrive at a contemporary visualization of the Corpus Kali, I began looking for a model whose life and art spoke of an intense sexual energy. The Lolitaesque renditions of Kali as seen in Indian calendar art and popular posters were simply not reasonable models of inspiration. I see her as a dancer, always moving in relationship to a chronology of timelessness. In the dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, I have found an appropriate conceptual model for Kali. Her dances and technique come in part from a deeply sexual source. The image on the cover of the paperback edition of this volume is a homage to the Kali in Graham. Kali luxuriates in a very Graham-like expression of movement that thrusts the glory of her being out at us. It sings its eroticism right down to the particular velvet dark-blue that contains her energy in perfect equipoise. Kali's dark, luminous color and the expression on her face at once make her accessible emotionally and yet distance her from intimate communion. Visualizing the Goddess in this way stills the nervous system; one is becalmed under the fiery yet benevolent stare of the Devi, the luxuriant Goddess, the Mother and exemplar of intense feelings. Continuing to see her in the round, I have also created a series of fourteen drawings that appear as silhouettes throughout the book. These silhouettes help project the depth of Kali's force. She helps one belong, particularly in the nascent dawn of late capitalism. There is much to see and understand.

Friday, March 7, 2014

In, An Illustrated Life. Danny Gregory. 2008.

An Illustrated Life Drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers, by Danny Gregory. 2008.

Illustrated lives: an introduction, Mattias Adolfsson, Peter Arkle, Rick Beerhorst, Butch Belair, France Belleville, Bill Brown, Simonetta Capecchi, Robert Crumb, Peter Cusack, Penelope Dullaghan, Mark Fisher, Enrique Flores, Paola Gaviria, Barry Gott, Seamus Heffernan, Kurt Hollomon, Christine Castro Hughes, Rama Hughes, James Jean, Cathy Johnson, Noah Z. Jones, Tom Kane, Amanda Kavanagh, Don Kilpatrick, James Kochalka, Gay Kraeger, Jane Lafazio, Christina Lopp, Paul Madonna, Hal Mayforth, Adam Mccauley, Prashant Miranda, Christoph Mueller, Brody Neuenschwander, Christoph Neimann, Marilyn Patrizio, Everett Peck, Venantius J. Pinto, Edel Rodriguez, Trevor Romain, Stefan Sagmeister, Christian Slade, Elwood Smith, Paul Soupiset, Roz Stendahl, Chris Ware, Melanie Wilson, Cindy Woods, Bryce Wymer, Acknowledgments.

Venantius grew up in Bombay, India. He studied advertising, design and illustration at the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, then communication design and computer graphics at Pratt Institute in New York. He now works  a digital artist. His work can be seen at

The purpose is indeed to depict the metaphor that resides fleetingly in my mind’s eye. My books give clarity to the thoughts that come to me. I believe we do not come by our thoughts, they come to us. 

The books are documents of understanding and resolution, or MOUs (memoranda of understanding) with myself if you will. They are a budo, a way of life. “Illustrating Understanding,” or “Illustrating to Reveal” would be more my cup of thought. In a sense they are an art form unto themselves and are indeed stand alones. I am not averse to incorporating aspects into other works, thought that has not happened as yet. They are trenches of visual thinking where one works out process and emotions, and learns to overcome fear.

The nature of my drawing is not about documenting the day-to-day. It’s about helping me understand ideas that come to me, and drawing is a vehicle to help me register my absorption of those thoughts. I attempt to understand what it is that moved me. “We do not come by our thoughts, they come to us” is something I deeply believe in. This is very significant to the way we understand things. 

My first and only rule, or obsession, is rigor. So the work must have a place, a reason it was attempted and for which it will be finished—to contribute significantly to the discourse on analysis, form, color, technique and so on. That is all I care about. I am not interested in effects or fancy manipulation. Having said that, I must add that I am abundantly blessed and have refined my techniques.

A book functions as a repository of the mind, a compact, portable, narrative mural. One moves to the next page only after being satiated with the current one. One carries and adds to the understanding gained from page to page. The sharing commences from something being stirred, and then the feeling dissipates, at which point enough has been revealed. 

I am in the process of making a set of three large books, and I like the idea that a book can be closed after it has been shared. To me, drawing on loose sheets of paper does not have the togetherness of a book. I would prefer to keep even a loose set of drawings in a box. But scraps of paper have their own dynamic, particularly those that do not conform to logical shapes.

The consistent thread in my work has always been the pursuit of thought. Everything else shifts. There is a certain line quality that is consistent, but I must say that too is subservient to the idea at hand. Nothing subordinates the idea and the understanding of it. 

This is my second phase in my sketching, with a lull in between of almost fifteen years, during which I only did thumbnails. I began sketching when I was in the seventh grade but have nothing to show for it. My second phase began in 2001, and I have a ton of work since then. I am very happy with the way things turned out. The subjects that I work on are complex and have required me to impart a high degree of skill and technique to realize them. I will soon be working on long scrolls. There have been short periods when I stopped drawings in order to spend time thinking without paper and marking tools. 

I drew as a child, beginning around age three. My first drawing was on the threshold of our company apartment in Mumbai, India. My entire lived movement is based on line. I would be egotistical in saying that every move of mine is akin to drawing, Lines move me, and a hurried line kills me. 
I prefer accordion books. I also like books that are tightly bound and ring bound books from Maruzen. I buy the accordion books in Japan and at Kinokuniya on Forty-ninth Street and Soho Art Materials on Grand Street, New York (Kinokuniya is now at 1073 Ave. of the Americas; and Soho Art Materials moved to 7 Wooster Street). Other types of books I buy at Pearl Paint and at New York Central. I have bought books in Lahti (Finland), India, Berlin, Mexico, etI draw with ballpoint (biro), pen and ink, silverpoint, pencils, various inks (including walnut and sumi), var. watercolors (including Gansai), goldleaf, gouache, fingers, etc. 

I use cases to store the books. It’s a pretty impressive  experience when Customs in various countries have asked me to open my case(s). I had a Swiss border policeman ask for prices. I was traveling via train from Cremona (Italy) to Stockholm. In Stockholm, airport security asked me to open my case, and it was a sight to witness the awestruck smile of the agent, who I am sure, was of Sri Lankan origin. The others had stopped what they were doing to watch! I think they regarded this as something special—a cargo that had to be with me.  
When I look back through my books, frankly speaking, its hard to believe I did them. I keep certain books together, my script drawing books for instance. I also always have one book that is close to me, one that I may occasionally skim trough to take in the detail. It’s revealing how much I learn about possibilities, which in turn strengthen my resolve to keep moving towards more intriguing directions. I recently reviewed some of my books and could not understand the automatic-ism in the drawings. It’s almost as if despite all my thinking, something else has interjected itself, which made the work into a collaboration. Perhaps collaboration with the limbic region, that mysterious space to which some people attribute divine connotations. 

I have often suggested to people how a book may be approached: the nature of narrative structure. The significance of maintaining a meta-narrative through all the smaller narratives that make up our own narratology, an internal geography. How do we gain, aside from the nature of the gain, by seeing and observing the outside? Draw to understand yourself. —Venantius J Pinto 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In, CROP CIRCLES: An Art of our Times by Mary Carroll Nelson, 2007.

Agrometry 1. 2000. Seen at the Internatiaonal Print Center, New York City. Roland Print on Concorde Neutral White. Print size: 24" x 34", Image size: 16.3" x24.2". 

Edition: 20+2AP Printed by: Xian Chen

Venantius Joseph Pinto, a resident of New York City, has had a multidimensional perspective for most  of his life. The eldest of three sons, he was raised in Bombay, India,  in a Christian family originally Goans. The former Portuguese colony was liberated and became part of India the year Pinto was born, 1961. Goans Christians are a minority in Bombay, but Pinto says when he was growing up, “I saw myself as different rather than separate.”
Pinto completed six years of study in Bombay at the J.J. Institute of Applied Art, earning his degree in Applied Art before coming to the United States in 1987. In 1991, he graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Computer Graphics.

Pinto’s solid background in design and technique of applied art became the foundation for his work. He incorporated his art education from India with the potential of digital art and came up with a unique process. “I’d do things in a traditional medium; then at night I’d go to the lab and replicate them through the computer.”

Pinto’s work includes a wide range of mediums, from detailed tempera illustrations reminiscent of historic Indian miniatures to abstractions, layered in glimmering veils of digital color. He has established a network of connections in the tough, fast-paced business of graphic art. At the same time he is devoted to the reflective, philosophical intimacies of his studio. Wherever he goes, he maintains simultaneously the objectivity of a stranger and the passionate commitment to membership in the boundless world of art.

Venantius Pinto seems to live between dimensions, always aware of more than one meaning to the events of his life. He is and will remain a man of India, versed in her myths and iconography. As a Catholic, he has integrated within himself the heritage of  Western Europe. As an artist he looks for content, relatedness, and genuine expression.

“The first thing I felt when I saw the crop circles was that there is some kind of consciousness inherent in them, an intelligence, a mystery, a humor that is giggling at us. Even if they are made by hoaxers, i’m still seeing a talent and consciousness that is coming through them.”

Sita under the full moon. Mixed Media Print size: 11.5" x 15", Image size: 9" x 11.75". 1998. Edition: Unique. 

Printed by: Vijay Kumar
“The geometry is fascinating, especially in the fields. They could have happened in the moors. I ask myself, why are the fields used as a ritual landscape? And I am reminded of Sita, ancient Hindu goddess in the fields, whose independent goddesshood was robbed by the orthodoxy by coupling her with the more contemporary god Rama.”

“I think where the crop circles are  is as important as what they are. The English fields are so ordered. Where a crop circle appears, it is as though a big hand has embossed them.”

“The crop circle is technique on a huge scale. It is very specific. A lot of time has been spent on thinking it out. It forces us to think, too. I see digital artists using techniques inappropriate to the tool and medium, whereas crop circle artists have invented a technique exactly suited to its site and material.”

Agrometry 2. 2000 appears in Crop Circles: An Art of Our Times. Roland Print on Concorde Neutral White. Print size: 24" x 34", Image size: 16.3" x 24.2". Edition: 20+2AP Printed by: Xian Chen

One of Pinto’s series of digital prints features crop circles. The shimmering Agrometry 2 is from this series; it (correction: it was Agrometry 1, which) was shown at the International Print Center in New York City (in Winter 2001).