During the early '90s, Kevin Arrow spent a year in the Himalayas helping Bhutanese artisans spruce up the shrine rooms of ancient Buddhist monasteries. Living in one of the remotest regions of the world, Arrow often went weeks without seeing another Westerner.
"I have always been fascinated with that culture," Arrow says. "I would help them prepare wall surfaces and clean brushes. It was pretty basic stuff. But the shrine rooms we were working in were just incredible and each of them was devoted to a different deity much like you would find, say, in the Catholic Church with a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi."
The intensity of the experience is evident in "Burning Bright," Arrow's solo show at the Farside Gallery in Westchester featuring a selection of paintings, drawings, projected media, and rummaged items that represent the artist's multi-pronged approach to making work.
In an engaging way, Arrow's art fuses his interest in the ephemeral object, fading technology, spirituality, music, humor, and the random nature of the universe.
Several of the paintings on exhibit take the form of Buddhist mandalas and make direct references to tigers, the Chinese emblem for the year of Arrow's birth. The exhibition's title also offers a nod to William Blake's 1794 poem, "The Tyger," informs the 46-year-old artist. "I was born in the year of the tiger, and it's become a symbol of life's power for me," he says.
"I am also interested in Jung's idea of the collective unconscious and the mandala as a symbol for centering focus. The notion of an artwork as a talisman appeals to me also, as do the Pennsylvania Dutch hex symbols painted on barns for good luck."
If it all sounds a bit esoteric, it's not. Arrow is definitely not one of those new-age space cadets. Rather, he approaches his ever-expanding bank of imagery with a honed eye, allowing spectators to discover their own poetry in them.
May 13-29, 2009