14-20 February 2014 #694

Reimagining the everyday

Imagine the streets you walk everyday lined with mirrors. All of a sudden, you become aware of the moments playing out simultaneously around you. Disorienting yes, but this is how Julian Parker-Burns presents everyday life in Kathmandu, in his newest exhibition, Trading Paint.

Although Julian’s mixed media technique is not a novelty in itself, it is his eye for detail that makes his art truly successful. From bus conductors, to sleeping dogs, and butcher shops, the artist has taken elements of street life, captured them on in camera, and then composed them into a single montage layered with a variety of textures and acrylics. The end product blurs the line between what is real and what is not.

As you step from one piece to another, you begin to see Kathmandu as Julian sees it: a visceral, vibrant wonderland. The whirling frenzy of wheels and engines in Motorcycle Ride, reminds one of the lawlessness and chaos that rules the streets here. Then there is Stairs which like many of his works has certain fluidity, causing your eye to constantly move back and forth. Inspired by the countless steps leading towards Swayambhunath, the stairs in Stairs, converge in an infinite loop, not unlike a modern-day MC Escher painting.

Another remarkable thing about Julian’s work is that it is tactile. When you are able to feel the relief and contours of the art and not just enjoy the view from afar, the experience becomes much more enriching.

While most of the 20 pieces on display are chaotically spectacular, there are some that call for deeper contemplation. Holding up Kathmandu, is one such work. Divided into two segments, the upper half of which shows a bright blue sky, a globe dotted with major landmarks like Boudha, the Narayanhiti Palace, and Singha Darbar, and the bottom a man staring at his reflection in a pool of water, a lone figure against a muted purple landscape, the piece maintains a fine balance between subtle and loud.

This image of water and reflections is recurring and embodies the artist’s theme. “Things don’t happen in one space, it happens everywhere. To create a reflection of one moment, he puts it all in one whole scene to create harmony,” explains Marie Ange Sylvain-Holmgren, managing director of Image Ark Gallery.

“My art is about universal interconnection; the desire to see an environment from all sides all at once,” writes Julian on his website. As stated, his latest exhibition achieves that and it is easy to find yourself sucked into this romanticised world he has so deftly portrayed. It is little wonder, then, that when you step out, you will see this city with a fresh set of eyes.

Toh Ee Ming

Trading Paint by Julian Parker Burns

17 January - 21 February

Image Ark Gallery, Pulchok


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