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My Life in Three Chapters - Vijen Vijendren

Review by Kristen Scholfield-Sweet

Four ways to read three chapters

Vijen Vijendren’s exhibition: My Life in Three Chapters, now showing at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery, is as richly varied as the story of his travels.  But how to look at art pieces that are so dramatically different in size, in materials used, and in ways of applying those materials?

Vijen’s work creates a whole from craft, technology, philosophy and imagination.  These four aspects come together to make something wonderful, and are ways to see his body of work.

CRAFT in its ancient OE usage meant “strength.”  This is a sensation of power in a visual image that cannot be explained but can be felt.  The strength of craft in the piece The World At Your Feet transforms both the relief carving and the plywood into an other-worldly experience that transcends an intellectual sense of what we are looking at.

TECHNOLOGY from the Indo-European base tek means to “shape or make.”  This is the technical skill of an artwork.  When a painting surprises with an unexpected application of materials that have perfect goodness of fit, as do the paper, ink and copper wire in The Book, we are allowed a glimpse into someone else’s mind.  The decisions and applications startle the viewer with a different world view.

PHILOSOPHY is defined as “loving” from the Greek philos and “wisdom” from sophos.  Loving wisdom.  This is the idea or theme that carries the meaning of the work.  The sculpture Tattered Warrior plays on the definition of something being torn and ragged in both what a warrior does, and in the scrapes and scratches on the carved Brazilian stone.

IMAGINATION is from the Latin verb imaginari, “to form an image in one’s mind, a picture to oneself.” This is the most praised and pressured aspect of art making.  Imagination is drama: the juxtaposition that creates new relationships. Imagination is a never-before-seen-thing.  The range of media, scale and surface in Vijen’s work creates a dialogue of drama.  The viewer can find places to rest: the yellow disk in Housing The Forest, the quiet red area in Ikanaide.  And yet each work challenges the viewer as a never before seen thing.    

The strength of feeling in Vijen’s art is carried by his match of media to its handling, and by keeping his philosophy in view through his imaginative mix of materials, applications, poetry and titles. My Life in Three Chapters continues at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery Friday August 11 from 6-9. Saturday and Sunday August 12 and 13 from 2-6. 

Top image credit: My Life in Three Chapters gallery shot by Kristen Schofield-Sweet


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