The Creative Impulse of Niam Jain
Looking at the artwork of Niam Jain, one would be hard-pressed to define its creator. There is great maturity in the use of material, as well as an audacious approach to colour and composition. Hints of Abstract Expressionism, a touch of Jackson Pollock perhaps, maybe Riopelle, the references are many. Yet it would be a great disservice to these artists to group them in this way, and most of all to Niam Jain.
To be placed on the shoulders of such giants in the history of art, and to do it at the tender age of twelve, is a true accomplishment. It becomes even more of a tour de force when one takes into account that Jain suffers from autism. But before any thoughts of pity or doubt arise, the artist himself dispels the myth, attributing his creativity to that very affliction. For rather than hinder his expression, it has fuelled his imagination, releasing, freeing his amazing creative impulse.
If art brut, or outsider art, comes to mind when discussing Jain, it is with reverence not disdain. Coined by the great French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), it defines “raw art”, one created outside the constraints of traditional aesthetics. Dubuffet himself eschewed such limitations, opting for a more authentic approach to making art.
And what could be more authentic than images borne of an unencumbered mind, of an unshackled, if unusual, spirit. Jain paints as if Jain paints as if he were channelling some kind of otherworldly energy.in his paintings, bursting onto the canvas in bold dabs and brushstrokes, at times with complete abstract abandon, at other grouping into geometric forms and patterns. Like in the works of surrealist Max Ernst, and others who employed automatism in their creative process, Jain seems to be accessing material from the subconscious, without guile or pretence.
With astounding pictorial intuition, this young artist composes works that inspire and intrigue. He invites the viewer into a vibrant world of unrestraint abandon, infused with the pure joy of painting. Jain possesses an innate understanding of the material, adapting to the demands of each medium – be it acrylic on canvas, wood or linen, or prints.
It is, nevertheless, disconcerting, and ultimately futile, to try and reconcile the maturity of the artwork with the tender age, and personal development of its creator. On his colourful website, Jain breaks his creative process into four simple steps that sum it up probably for 99% of all artists. Get paint, prepare, start painting, stop painting. It is what remains after the final phase that sets them all apart. When Jain finishes his painting, the result defies the stance. The mind boggles thinking what the future holds for this supremely talented and unique artist.
Marco Rosada – director at KontemporaryArt Gallery
Calgary, AB, 2016