But why aren’t the seals stamped to the back of the painting instead of the front? Edou smiles and thinks for a moment. “For that I have no answer,” he says. “For one thing, the seals become a part of the painting, and for another, the precise pattern makes a contrast to the suggestive nature of the paintings.”
A painting of Buddhist prayer flags titled Gone With the Wind is very close to his heart. One can almost hear the flags fluttering silently in a breeze. “I never managed to do another one like this,” Edou reflects. “I like it because it is my own inspiration, not something I reproduced.”
Edou reflects on the small community of Chan painters, and the relative anonymity of the art form. “This practice is outside the mainstream,” he says, and that the idea was never to be a professional or to make a living out of it.
“We are often called eccentrics, and cut off from academic circles. But eccentricity means thinking outside the box, being more concerned about inspiration and less about the technique or style. And I like being eccentric,” he adds, laughing.
Despite the Covid crisis still looming large, Sangeeta Thapa is set on going ahead with socially distanced exhibition after being shut for almost a year. “If I’m not hopeful, I might as well shut down this place and wait until the vaccine is here. But people have started to go to malls and restaurants,” she says. “Why should art have to suffer? The art must survive. Livelihoods must go on.”
Jerome Edou’s A Single Brushstroke opens at Siddhartha Art Gallery on 11 December and ends on 10 January.