Gregory Lent – Art is Sadhana

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“It turns out that growing as an artist and growing as a person are the same thing,” says Gregory Lent, who lives in Tiruvannamalai, the small town in Tamil Nadu that is home to the Ramana Maharshi ashram. He was drawn to the place because it was good for meditation.

“Art too is sadhana,” the artist says. “I learn to listen more deeply to the inner voice, letting creation happen by itself, with less interference from ‘me’. This inner quest has become the dominant theme in my life. As an artist, I explore the inner energies encountered in this process… In the end, the secret of art is that art looks at us, from the inside out. We are both the eye that sees and the ‘I’ that is seen.”

“Lent’s exhibition, The Secret of Art, currently on at the Time and Space Art Gallery, has on display what he calls three-dimensional works. The artist explains that since there are no art supply stores in Tiruvannamalai, he began seeing everything in town as a potential component for art. Like the sticks used by water pump repairmen, copper wires, bamboo pieces, waste wood from the workshop where window frames are made, paint from the hardware shop…

“It is in the shapes from ordinary life that I have seen the possibility of expressing the energies found in my inner world.”

From The Hindu.

We first met Gregory a few weeks ago at the marriage of the brother of a mutual Tamil friend. Gregory had just returned to Tiruvannamalai from an extended stay in China. He has lived here here in Tiru for many years, but now flees during the busy tourist season and returns after most of the visitors have left. We found out he was an artist, and he invited us to come see him at his house/studio. A few days ago we went to visit him, and most of the photos in this post are from that visit. A few have are from articles posted on the web of his work.

Gregory was happy, even ebullient, during the visit, talking about art. He was dressed for the summer heat. The pants looked like they were one he used when he worked on his art. He lives in a small compound that includes his house, another building that acts as his studio, and a third building.

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His art is everywhere around the compound.  

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The two pieces above were made primarily of wooden pieces, made into a composition and painted. Many of the materials, he gathers from scrap from local wood shops and frame makers.

Some glitter from sequins …

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Or pieces of mirror.

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Some of  the pieces seem more representational, like the figure of a man, below.

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Some seem  pure flights of fancy, as the piece below.

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Around the building he uses as his studio, there are artworks everywhere. Those below are more made primarily from wood pieces.

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We walked around his studio and compound, looking and talking about his art.

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He is starting to work with reflective glass tiles. I think he likes how light is reflected back from them. He incorporates other decorative elements that are originally meant as decorations for sarees.

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After he assembles the composition, I think  he might paint over some of the baubles, and then use steel wool to selectively remove paint from some pieces so the light will show through.

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A common theme for him (and many other artists here in Tiruvannamalai) is Arunachala. The piece below is made from wooden fibers used to tie thatched  roofs together and foam rubber, constructed and painted.

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On the walls outside and inside the studio are a number of finished pieces in other media.

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Another Arunachala.

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Arunachala made from glass and mirror pieces.

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Wooden pieces. I think these are older, since there is no reflective materials in either of these.

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He even has some artwork on the walls outside, weathering in the elements.

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Below are pictures and commentary from a blog posting of Gregory’s.  He shows in a gallery in Bangalore, and sells quite a few pieces.

the temple of the self

This one went to Germany, and was appreciated for the fact that the human form is inverted, concave, suggesting the journey within.

shasrahara buddha

This piece continues a series based on the feeling of an expanded awareness existing above and beyond the brain/mind/body…… done with pieces of mirror and pigmented cement.

the great gate

This work is expresses the driving need to transcend the apparent limitations of human life.

From a show posting, from Pearl Editions gallery.

Just inside the here and now

Sri Chakra 1

Created at the feet of Arunachala Shiva, these creations are a reflection of divine energy dancing in form.

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Soon Gregory will have another show in Bangalore. I think we will try to attend. From our previous life in California, we are used to going to art show openings. It seem like it would be fun to do so here. And Gregory is a hoot, so I know we would have a good time.

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