By: Emily Schecter, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Edited By: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director, Seraphin Gallery
In the meticulous repetition of his labor, Youdhi Maharjan creates an eternity through meditative design. He transforms book pages into elegant and highly detailed works of art, aiming to bring together writing, reading, and drawing. Using an attentive process, he diligently singles out shapes, letters, or words to produce precise patterns. It is both the action of creating each piece and the result that gives them meaning. He describes this feeling as something that “lasts for a few material moments, but feels like forever, where the time stops, and with it stops all my questions and worries, where I am free from my existential burden and get a little closer to myself.” The contemplative power of his work is connected to the experience of producing each individual mark. As he surrenders to the material and the process, he is able to find a certain inner peace as he goes deeper into what can be learned, expressed, and reformed.
Through his work, Maharjan is “freeing language from the enslavement of meaning.” He does this by erasing, scraping off, and cutting out texts from reclaimed books to transform their meaning. Part of his process is that he constructs rules for himself to follow in forming each piece. His work is process based, meaning that the action of creating the piece holds more importance than the final result, and because of this he takes careful steps in deciding how he will develop each piece. Maharjan’s first rule is always that the title of each piece is also the title of the book used to create it. He selects the books by finding a title that speaks to him, then choosing a concept along with rules that dictate the journey that he wants in to embark on in order to reach the final outcome. For Maharjan, the meditative aspect of the physically and mentally labor-intensive process is key in what he makes. When conceiving a design or concept he responds to the emotion that the title brings forth in him, urging those who view the final result to gain a new awareness of what they signify. Maharjan’s creations promote philosophical thought by suggesting people view knowledge with intuitive insight instead of analysis and reason.
Maharjan’s piece, A Thread of Truth, is three combined pages from a book veiled by a thin layer of white acrylic paint. Black dots are drawn within the cutout of each letter “o” in ink intermittently throughout the remains of the text, each connected by a whirling thin black line. The title conjures the idea that the words are being stitched together, and that in doing this a higher truth is being revealed. This work suggests that value can be found in the book, separate from its original purpose. Maharjan draws attention to the pensive beauty that the words and pages embody based on physical appearance alone instead of the literal concepts that they represent by merging the text with aspects of drawing and design. Like A Thread of Truth, The Heart of a Woman accentuates a hidden beauty that can be found within the pages of text, but goes further in exposing the painstaking process that gives Maharjan’s work its meditative depth. In this piece he has excised the text of a book and braided them into rope, which sits in place of the pages. The weaved pages combined with the book, its title looming at the top of the page prompts one to reassess the way they obtain information. The viewer is forced to make sense of Maharjan’s creation initiating feeling and intuition instead of traditional logic.
Forever is square in format with nine squares of text within it. The letters are cut out and elegantly placed into perfect squares encased in a box of text. At the top of each square is the title of the piece and the page number. At the bottom of the piece is another row of the title, only this time without the text underneath, suggesting that the piece could continue on infinitely. Once more, the tedious process of removing the characters is a major feature, which is highlighted in this particular piece by the recurrence of the squares and the implication that they continue on. Forever emphasizes the importance of the contemplative power of repetition and the focus involved in creating it.
Art Radar published an artist profile on Maharjan, who was recently part of TARQ art gallery’s In Letter and Spirit exhibition in Mumbai. The exhibition focuses on the ways in which three artists engage with text and challenge its traditional meaning. Maharjan’s exploration of the “thingness of text” and the relationship that people have with the letters and pages of books was well received. Seraphin Gallery is eager to have this international artist featured in our current exhibition.
Maharjan was born in Nepal, and began to study art at age nineteen. Mostly self taught, he earned a degree in Creative Writing and Art History from New England College in 2008 and a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Idaho with an emphasis in painting and printmaking in 2012. His work has been exhibited at the Boston Fine Art Show in 2015, India Art Fair in 2016, Siddhartha Art Gallery 2016, and TARQ Art Gallery. Maharjan’s work is currently being exhibited at Seraphin Gallery’s 3rd Annual Emerging Talent exhibition and will be on display until August 28th. We look forward to continuing our relationship with this artist in the future.