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Art with a free hand

Forms and ideas emerge on their own in artist Louis Van Marissing's works


LOUIS VAN Marissing from Holland is an art therapist and artist. He had his training in commercial art at the Academy of Arts, Arnhem and then obtained a degree in art teaching from the same institution. But he did not quite like the idea of becoming a teacher and took a job at a hospital for the mentally challenged. There he got the opportunity to learn art therapy. For him the process of painting is a communication between the self and the painting. His material is unconventional. He soaks a thick board in linseed oil for some time; the board becomes strong and translucent. Over this he applies colours, often with his hands. As he works, the painting seems to obtain its own vitality. "I put life into it through the several layers," says Louis, who applies layer after layer of colour, which can be oils, acrylic, coloured ink or even commercial paint. Each layer of paint can be discerned because of the transparent board. It looks as if one can peel off layer after layer and reach the starting point. The predominant colour of his works on show at the Alliance Francaise de Madras is glowing red, justifying the title "Emerging Red".

Why red? Jokingly he says, "We are often told to look inwards. If I look inside there would be only red inside the body."

Balance in art

His paintings are dominated by geometric forms such as square, rectangle, triangle and circle. The titles are straightforward such as "Gold with script in diamond shape". He is not trying to convey any message, nor does he work with any preconceived idea. The forms and ideas emerge on their own. "A painting should be expressive but there must also be discipline. It is important to be precise like a surgeon; art balances life and there has to be balance in art itself," says Louis. It is not a false claim; there is precision in the geometric forms and clarity in the outlines, which is visible even through several layers of colour that start from burnt sienna and end with vibrant red. Blue often emerges as a counterpart to the red, and as a relief. "Blue and red are connected, blue seems to invite itself". It is not as if he does not like or use other hues; one can see green in "Tryptich green red with gold". Gold leaf and script are also repetitive elements in his works giving a relief to the eye and adding a new dimension to the balance. As a student of calligraphy, Louis had learnt to write Arabic and Chinese and these find expression in his paintings as writings without any meaning. The script is written with a pen and a brush to obtain different thickness. "Red and gold in sand with leaves" has tiny leaves dipped in gold strewn around. Sometimes he paints over his earlier works, often when they come back after an exhibition. `Emerging Red' is on at the Alliance Francaise till March 3.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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