Miles Davis' jazz classic 'My favourite Valentine' was playing on the radio when Symon decided to name his painting just that. As whimsical as his names of paintings are, his art is even more so-spontaneous, quirky, colourful, wild, and totally entertaining.
Painting is essentially about entertainment for this American-born artist from Bali. "The king made the palace to entertain himself, the priests built the temple to entertain the followers, and Symon makes art to entertain his audience," says the cheerful artist, his hands still covered in fresh paint. Back home in Bali, Symon, who goes by just his given name, is a leading artist with his own atelier and bright melange of pop art, landscapes, and cityscapes.
Symon lived in Kathmandu for almost a decade until 1976 and helped revive the Tibetan woodblock tradition right here in Jhochhen. He's back 30 years later, presenting his take on today's modern, chaotic city.
Symon uses broad brushstrokes and paints straight from the imagination. His 'Lost in Indra Chowk' (pictured) is filled with brass pots, piles of clothes for sale, a Ganesh, a pagoda, a random fire-spewing pillar-and a tired-looking pink elephant who has lost his way. Pink elephants feature in a number of the paintings on display simply, Symon says, because they're fun, and stimulate the curiosity of children.
The paintings, on show at the Indigo Gallery, are "funsy", in a style the artist likes to call "immediasm". The approach seems tailor-made for Kathmandu's crooked architecture, and the chaos of daily life is evident in the bright colours and refreshingly vibrant lively, layered images.
The New 'Du: A Playful Image of Kathmandu (and beyond) by Symon opens 18 October at Indigo Gallery, Naxal.