Antonio PURI

Despite surface differences, the essential commonality between artists is that theirs is the profession of playing with the universe. With tools of color and shape, all artists play with time and space. Despite variances in style, success, and philosophy, every artist takes their turn at being God - using the raw materials of light and nature and remaking them in the reflection of their own dream.

Antonio's first experience with light and nature was growing up at the toes of the Himalayan mountain range -- the world's most impenetrable wilderness. Vast, imposing, and perfect, Antonio's inspiration was cut like the granite of the range itself and weathered by its timeless music. It is little wonder; given so magnificent a backdrop, that Antonio's first steps into Art came at the age of 5. A sensualist from the beginning, Antonio experimented with clay, batik, woodcarving and charcoal before painting with oils at age 12.

Antonio spent 17 years beneath the gaze of the Himalayas before wandering into the world that would become his playground. His experience in both English and International boarding schools lends the first hint of universality to his work - giving an international essence to his Art that transcends culture and ethnicity. From the simplest straight line cut across a black background, to the shifting beauty of one of his transparent women in all their truth, everything Antonio paints is propelled by the most basic human drives - separate from the superimposed edifice of any single society. In this way Antonio captures both the singular distinctive flavor of the individual heart, as well as the beating drum of humanity in whole.

Antonio studied Art across the globe -- from Spain to Iowa, India to San Francisco. He drew inspiration from the Spanish masters, French Impressionists, Abstract Expressionists, and the Dadaists, to name a few. But none of these would match the simple awe he saw in the world itself.

Curiously, at the same time Antonio's passion for Art was reaching its full harmonic, he was simultaneously leading a double-life, studying law at the University of Iowa. At 29 Antonio became part of the Illinois State Bar as a corporate attorney. It is perhaps his experience as a lawyer, where words are twisted and thrown like weapons, that makes Antonio hesitant in speaking of his work. Ask him the meaning of a particular piece, and his face fills with a vague pain. "I'm not a writer. If I were I would talk about it. But it's not that I don't want to. I can't. I can only say it in the colors. That's where the meaning is. Colors are universal."

Perhaps it is this. Or perhaps it is that the emotional power of Antonio's paintings cannot be captured in words. In dramatic support of this contention are Antonio's recent nudes. The ambiguous shifting beauty of the female form seems to reveal the uncertain nature of love and hate, good and bad, beauty and ugliness, a powerful illustration of the immovable unity between the spinning opposites that cannot be experienced in the divisions of language. Explained, maybe, but not experienced. But beyond the meanings and themes, the ultimate point of his work seems to be the sweeping happiness of his color… a child, wandering in the park, playing with time and space. Jacob O'Brien