Chennai-based artist John Tun Sein was born in 1957 and studied at the Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai. His work forms part of the collection at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi. One of his untitled paintings is on display at the group show on canvas –1, currently on at Gallery Art Motif in New Delhi. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Do you have any preferences when it comes to the choice of medium on which you paint?
I can paint on any surface, even on newspapers. Surface is impermanent and I take advantage of that impermanency. The person who is painting will cease to exist and the painting will wither away one day. It is the simple language of impermanence that I believe in. Right now I am working with acrylic a lot; as for surface—old paper, board, canvas, I paint on anything.
Untitled oil on canvas work by John Tun Sein
Any advantages that canvas offers?
Canvas has certain qualities that are a little bit different from paper or board. It is stretched on a wooden frame which gives a bouncy assistance—and thus another quality when you paint. Paper, by comparison, will be hard. So canvas has advantages; you can work on it for a large period of time, as it can absorb a lot of colour.
Anything you would like to say about your untitled work on display?
I painted it this summer. Once I am done with a painting, the process stays and spills over to the next work I am doing. There is nothing to say about the work that’s been done. It’s the process while I am working that’s important to me—the stages of struggle, the moments of desperation and challenge.
Why do you paint abstract works?
Basically, I am an abstract painter. We are determining things by form—brick, tree, flower. But they also contain colour. A rose is pink or orange or red; leaves are green. So, colour is enclosed in the form. If you free the form, you only have colour. Leaves are a mass of green, the sky is a big blue space. When you free colour from forms, you have pure state of colour. Colour exists on its own strength. In abstract art you see blue as blue and not be reminded of sky; you see red as red and not be reminded of a rose; you see green as green and not be reminded of a tree. That’s the joy of abstract painting; painting abstract art is much more difficult than you can imagine.
On canvas-1 will be on until 3 January at Gallery Art Motif, F 213 C, Lado Sarai, New Delhi. Click here for more details