Gautam Rao unveils “Unblocked”

WRITTEN BY BRITTANY GARRETT, STAFF REPORTER

Butler University professor and artist Gautam Rao had garnered attention for some of his works in the form of a weeks-long show.

Rao premiered his series of paintings, “Unblocked,” Friday at the Arts Council of Indianapolis’ Gallery 924.

Gallery 924 will show “Unblocked” from Sept. 6-27.

Rao’s previous works using different figures and forms have been replaced by a new color theory. His patterns of squares and rectangles delve into a new genre of painting, each one acrylic on canvas. This exploration into the new color theory is grouped by hue, color, temperature and value. The patterns are organized in what Rao describes as a “mathematical” manner.

Using the theme of rediscovery as his inspiration, his pixels are used to mimic different landscapes, typography and overall moods.

“They play on the human tendency to recognize images in patterns everywhere,” Rao said.

Rao said he settled on a “joy found in color choices”while creating these works.

He began production on this series in 2011 and has developed deeper and more complex patterns with each painting.

“It really started because I wanted to paint every day and needed to come up with a way to make that happen, even if it is only for 10 minutes,” Rao said. “You just can’t paint really great figure paintings in that amount of time.”

Being a professor, Rao’s schedule fills up and scatters his free time. Because of this he devised a system of mixing different paint colors and putting them on canvases in tiny boxes. This way, he could work for only a few minutes or hours and not have to go over blending previous squares.

For the first night of the show, many people came to the gallery in admiration of the contemporary series. Bekah Pollard, a student of Rao, described the display as “probably the most professional gallery I’ve been to.”

“It was pretty rad to see a whole show by someone I know in such a nice space,” Pollard said.

The studio space has a history of hosting noteworthy events.

Over the summer, various artists joined forces for “The Self-Portrait Show” at Gallery 924. Bertrand Gimmonds, an “Unblocked” attendee, compared the two displays.

“Although the subject matter and the mediums are very diverse, I think they both really capture the overall feel of the gallery,” Gimmonds said.

The 1,300 square-foot gallery space prides itself on the publicized mission of “highlighting central Indiana contemporary artists.”

The council’s main concern is helping local up-and-coming artists gain publicity and spreading the involvement of the community in the art scene. More than 800 artists are featured in its online database.

As for Gallery 924’s future plans, nothing has been made public yet about what the following months have to offer, but presentations by local artists should be expected.

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