A new project takes life

Namita Paul — August 23, 2019

“Of course I constantly despair at my own incapacity, at the impossibility of ever accomplishing anything, of painting a valid, true picture or even knowing what such a thing ought to look like. But then I always have the hope that, if I persevere, it might one day happen. And this hope is nurtured every time something appears, a scattered, partial, initial hint of something which reminds me of what I long for, or which conveys a hint of it—although often enough I have been fooled by a momentary glimpse that then vanishes, leaving behind only the usual thing.”

Gerhard Richter

Once Upon A Time

Mixed Media on Wood

12”X12”

This painting is the first of my new series inspired by a visit to the Neon Museum at Las Vegas last year. The piece started with the lettering “Fitzgerald,” and while I did not refer to the history of the neon sign, I did want to use color as the central aspect of the collection, while giving a nod to the historicity of the referred image. Once the painting was completed, I found that it reminded me of a traditional, classical dance in southern India— Kathakali—specifically the face masks that are part of the gorgeously dramatic costumes unique to this dance form. “Katha” means story, and “Kali” refers to a play or, performance. Neon signs and an Indian classical dance form would make strange bedfellows, and yet, for a moment, they seem to coexist on my canvas. The work has a glossy finish hence a little bit of a reflection on the lower right side.

Ode To Red Barn

Mixed media on panel

12”X12”

This painting is based on one of my favorite signs at the Neon Museum Boneyard, the Red Barn. According to the Neon Museum, the “Red Barn opened in 1958 as an antique store on Tropicana Avenue near Maryland Parkway, and was converted into a bar in the early 1960s. By day, the bar catered to straight customers but served a largely gay clientele at night. By the early 1970s it had evolved into one of the few openly gay bars in Las Vegas. The bar offered drag shows like the popular RB Follies and published the “RB Bag,” one of the earliest gay magazines in Southern Nevada. The Red Barn closed in March 1988 and the building burned down several months later.”

I’m Not One To Believe In Magic

Acrylic on Panel

12” X 12”

If you look closely, you will see glimpses of Stardust and Aladdin Lamp neon signs at the Neon Museum at Las Vegas. Something about those two forms pitted against the blue Nevada sky, like banners, or masts, caught my attention as I have been thinking about challenges faced by our planet, whether its rising seas or the burning of the Amazon rainforest.

What Inspired me:

An instagram account that captures life in Delhi, India: @thedelhiwalla and for context, read this excellent write up about his work.

Lubaina Himid: I discovered Himid through The Modern Art Notes Podcast, one of my prime resources for inspiration and encouragement, especially when I simply need a reason to persevere in my studio!

What I am reading:

Working it Out: 23 Women Writers, Artists, Scientists, and Scholars Talk about their Lives and Work

Beloved by Toni Morrison

What I am listening to:

The Modern Art Notes Podcast, especially this conversation with British artist Lubaina Himid.

MindShift Podcast on KQED described as “a podcast about the future of learning.” This is a great back to school listen, especially if issues surrounding K-12 education and kids’ mental health are of interest.


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