Science Meets the Sacred in ‘Boundless Possibilities,’ now at London’s October Gallery

May 27, 2016 12:24AM

In “Boundless Possibilities,” his third show at October Gallery in London, Govinda Sah ‘Azad’ mines the scientific and the sacred in an artistic investigation of how the universe was created. To find these cosmic answers, he looks to the large and the small, the finite and the infinite—the whole picture.

“Many of my paintings can be read as either microscopic or macroscopic in scale,” he told Gerard Houghton in 2013. “Yet I want them to be both micro and macroscopic simultaneously.”

Born in the Nepalese town of Rajbiraj, not far from Mount Everest, Sah now lives and works in London. Drawing from his surroundings in Nepal, Sah would paint the clouds looming over the mountain peaks. Inspired by Turner’s and Constable’s majestic landscapes, his mixed-media canvases explore natural elements as well as invisible concepts like life, death, and beyond.

One can see the influence of Constable’s cloud studies as Sah’s oil paint exposes the sky’s intricate detailing, with light and dark forming what could be the beginning, or end, of a storm. Similarly, the overwhelming scenes are suggestive of the sublime, while the dramatic chiaroscuro holds moral connotations of good and evil.

Night Sky (detail) (2016) by Govinda Sah ‘Azad’

Meanwhile, beads and hair add textured layers to his work, conjuring new particles and dimensions. For instance, in the celestial Night Sky (2016), mixed media transforms into dark matter dotted with stars, distant planets, and cosmic dust. Even as the canvas greets the incomprehensible size of space, it acknowledges what the universe consists of: countless molecules and microcosms and, by comparison, a few humans.

“The universe rolls on despite our ignorance,” Sah has said, “and all we can do is marvel at its infinite complexity. My work portrays those transcendent energies surrounding us all, of which we too make up a small part.”

—Lara Monro

Govinda Sah ‘Azad’: Boundless Possibilities” is on view at October Gallery, London, May 19–Jun. 25, 2016.

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