nyla sunga
painting drawing illustration

Artist's Statement

I stepped into a medical office recently to have some routine blood work done. The place was packed and dull except for a bright spot on the closest wall. Above the downcast faces was a print of an oil painting by an artist with whom I was not familiar. But that artist told me a story so rich in shape and light, with objects so infused with spiritual life, that when my name, or rather my number, was called I couldn't believe a half hour had passed.

Visual art, music, the story, the dance; somehow all are intertwined in my life, and each has the power to transport me out of the mundane and weary routine. Like the code words in an old Negro spiritual, they can be a beacon of hope from unknown kindred. They can give dignity and soothing comfort to the painful emotion. They can be the fuel that keeps the fire stoked.

I draw because I am in love with the rhythm and play of the drawn line, with the simple gesture, be it tender, be it fierce. I paint because of a fascination with the limitless world of colour, that place where the longer one looks the more one sees of unusual combinations and thrilling hues.

I love big skies, bodies dancing, singers singing, faces that tell stories. I love the always mysterious dance of light and dark. Through my work I try to make sense of all the impressions, the news clips, the outrage, the heart beat, the heat. I try to give thanks for the sublime movement of the sensual world that supports and sustains me.

Thai Buddhists have little prayer houses in their homes, on their fish boats, even in their taxis. They put stuff on them daily, a can of coke, some flowers, fruit. This ritual of gratitude is built into their day, and I imagine it is especially useful for those days when they are not feeling the least bit thankful. To take a work from original impulse to, say, a finished canvas is for me a gesture of gratitude. It is an attempt to see with fresh eyes as if I am looking for the first time. It is pausing to perhaps discover something overlooked...