Buddhism-influenced works of French artist on view in Delhi

Inspired from the traditional Buddhist art of several Asian countries, mixed with imagery from popular culture and his own interpretation, the artworks of French artist and Zen practitioner Guyseika are unique vignettes of eastern culture and abstract expressionism.

On view at the Alliance Francaise de Delhi from January 11-16, Guyseika's debut India exhibition 'Thread through Asia' showcases Asian influences on his art.

The solo show is a glimpse into the 22 years of his Zen practice and artistic exploration - a thread piecing together traditional Zen and Taoist painting of China and Japan, shamanism, mandalas and folk rituals of India with Tibetan thangkas. The exhibition features over 50 contemplative works done in various media.

Guyseika was attracted to Asia right from childhood onwards, through the deep link that his grandmother had with Vietnam, having spent her childhood there. After travelling extensively within eastern countries and experiencing Buddhist culture first-hand, the Normandy-born artist started practicing Zen with a Japanese master. He later voyaged through India. Not surprisingly, upon his return to Paris, his works were strongly dominated by eastern cultures.

Guy also became fascinated with the spiritual and geometric forms of yantras and mandalas, and the ritual use of pigments, that one finds in abundance in India.

Looking forward to this occasion, Jaya Jaitly, President, Dastkari Haat Samiti said, "In the midst of all the pandemonium around us, Guy offers beauty, calm and gentleness through his intensely thoughtful works. I truly believe this is what we all need to internalise to keep our balance."

With bold, colourful strokes of the brush, Guyseika's work in acrylic on canvas represents fluid, dreamlike forms, and visualise his affinity for the mountains – spaces where much of his Zen exploration took place. Many of his works imagine Buddhist visuals mixed with manga, tattoo, street art and surfing culture.

The more traditional series of Zen inks, reminiscent of Asian calligraphic styles with the artist capturing the fleeting present moment in muted hues of blue, red, purple and black on white handmade paper.

Guyseika's aim? To confront and mix different cosmogonies in order to create a mythical world neighbouring and questioning our ordinary reality.

Rooted in Buddhist philosophy, his works beautifully combine the text and visual forms. They often illustrate a short poem, and present a simple but profound teachings on Tao (the path, Dharma).

The artist names some of his Japanese influences as poems by Han Shan, Ryokan and Ikkyu, as well as Basho.

Thomas further notes, "Guyseika's Buddhist inspirations are amply evident in his work, though they are also illuminated by a penchant for quirky captions in French and English."

His works like 'Kat' and 'Dragon Posture' make layered psychedelic icons redolent of punk and comic book art with their simplicity and fantastic imagery.

At the same time, the swirling vortexes, ascetic figures and tigers that fill these works allow us to trace a thread through Guyseika's work, the thread being Asian influences that lend the exhibition its title.

The artist's use of stamps resembling Japanese hankos, with the artist's Buddhist name, meaning "river of stars" in Japanese kanji lend a sense of authenticity to the series, writes Thomas.

Mountains reappear in Guyseika's series of mandala drawings made on textured handmade paper in natural pigments and crayons from Avani-Kumaon cooperative whose vegetable dyes and pigments Guyseika has a fondness for. In mandalas, mountain motif is distilled into the geometric shapes of circles and triangles.

As the eastern cultural traditions and art come alive in Guyseika's work, it is the perfect opportunity to see the east meeting west. Interestingly, Seika does not own a studio. He likes to work where life takes him.

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