Bhaskar Krag is a formerly New York Soho-based artist who took a decade hiatus from the art world—but not art—on Cortes Island. Now, out of the Arc building on Powell St., the Eastside Culture Crawl marked his re-emergence, this time into Vancouver’s scene. Krag claims, “I am a bit of an anachronism in the trendy art world in terms of medium, but not vision. My primary medium is oil on linen.” The New York Times describes his work as “square, heavily impastoed paintings [with] a festive sensuousness."
His paintings evolve like music, he said, one note at a time. "I keep painting until I create a kind of a harmonic that's complete," he told a reporter in anticipation of the Eastside Culture Crawl, which runs from November 16 to 19. 10,000 people are expected to get a rare glimpse of creativity in motion this weekend, thanks to the culture crawl, as artists open their studios to the public.
Krag's studio is Suite: 207 in The ARC, a unique Work/Live building located at the bottom of Commercial St. at Powell. The building hosts a number of dynamic artists working in a variety of different visual, performance, and industrial mediums.
His paintings are built one stroke at a time, woven in many layers. Thinking of it as music, it’s kind of like creating a harmonic symphony one note at a time. I know that it is finished when nothing is out of tune, and I have a transcendent experience. It’s hard to say exactly what it is, but painting from ‘the tree of life’ seems close.”
Conbeau by Bhaskar Krag
“My intention is to create a special place that you can enjoy looking at/being in." One can approach it from any angle, and depending on how you see/feel that day, enjoy the magic of your vision. There is no one way to see it. Frequently people tell me that they still see new things in their paintings even after many years.
Speaking of his own art, Krag concludes: “Painting is the first place where I felt connected with my life. If you know life and spirit, then you'll recognize it in something else. Even if you don't know that you know it, this might be a good reminder.”
bg by Bhaskar Krag
Others must see or feel it, too. His work is held in collections in New York, all over the United States, Hawaii, Canada and even here at home with three pieces in Mayor Robertson’s home.
Born in Boston and raised in Connecticut, Krag had his first showing at the Soho Center for the Visual Arts in New York City in 1987. There, he was represented by the Jay Grimm Gallery in Chelsea and his work was selected in The New Yorker's Hot Picks Shortlist.
"New York was a place I could be, but British Columbia is a place I feel connected to," Krag said.
"My basic approach has always been the same. I see and follow an intuitive vision, so I basically see an impression, and I follow it and I paint this way," he said.
Standing in front of "bg", Krag said that he likes allowing a painting's viewers to interpret it without explaining too much himself. "There's a quality of my painting that it's not like--say a stop sign, where everyone looks at it and says, 'Oh that's a stop sign.' There's a quality to this that different people looking at it will see quite different things," he said.
Paco by Bhaskar Krag
Arresting and original, Krag's paintings seem to depict a luminescent underwater universe of dreams, transcendence and shamanistic exploration. They are reflective of a deep spirituality. They are windows into non material worlds. The paintings and the meaning within them change, depending upon where they're viewed from and depending upon the mood of the viewer. From every angle, however, they are stimulating, illuminating and speak to the interconnectedness and complexity of life.
Now, 62, he's been working daily as an artist since he was a teenager. In five decades, he has built a large body of work, a treasure trove--the bulk of which is housed alluringly unattainably on Cortes Island, and the remainder in various collections around North America, as well as a select few in his studio at the Arc.
"I'm painting the way I see light," Krag said.
a by Bhaskar Krag