Artist Y.R. Egon Translates Longing Into Paintings

Y. R. Egon (Ruchira Amare) cuts a stylish, erudite figure.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, the artist arrived on the New York scene from her native Mumbai with an artistic and creative practice balancing influences from Europe and her native India. Her creative leanings are underpinned by a formidable education background in Engineering and Fashion Design. Learning under established Mumbai-based artists while concurrently pursuing a degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai, Egon distills a wide range of influences into her impressionist, yet geometrically balanced, paintings. The artist holds a Fashion Design degree from the Parsons School of Design.

The artist sat down with ANTE. to discuss themes running through her work and what’s upcoming for her on the heels of exhibitions at Dacia Gallery, Six Summit Gallery, Rochester Contemporary Art Center and The Greenpoint Gallery.

Painter Y R Egon

ANTE.: Your work shows formal qualities linking to modernist greats such as Piet Mondrian. Do you see your practice as continuing a dialogue with modern abstract artists from the mid-20th century? 

Y.R.: I agree – yes. I have always followed Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Mark Rothko and Wassily Kandinsky. As Mondrian once said, “Abstract art is not the creation of another reality but the true vision of reality.” I try to have my own language and to express my emotions through my paintings.

ANTE.: Color and shape are important aspects in your paintings. How has your approach in forming connections between color and shape evolved from your studies to the present moment?

Y.R.: I have always cherished the emotion that comes out of nostalgia and longing for the past. I attempt to capture and preserve these emotions through my paintings. Over time I realized that there is a word for this behaviour in Finnish; that word is ‘kaiho,’ meaning a hopeless longing in which one feels incomplete and yearns for something unattainable or extremely difficult and tedious to attain. I use colour and shape and geometric-like patterns which are not truly geometric: these (patterns) have evolved over time and show some traces of reality.

ANTE.: Your formative education in art occurred when you were learning from painters based in India. How do you see your work forming a bridge between the Indian art canon and the Western art canon?

Y.R.: I did not have a formal art education but I studied under great and successful artists in India. I learnt many techniques from them that helped me translate and formulate my ideas using the medium of painting. I try to use my knowledge, my ideas, my inspirations and life experiences to formulate my thoughts. In the process, unintentionally I end up using different techniques and practices that span both the Indian and the Western art canon.

ANTE.: As a full-time artist, you are dedicated to painting and making art constantly; what are some of your goals in terms of exhibiting your paintings? Do you have a dream gallery you’d like to show with and/or museum or similar venue to show your work?

Y.R.: Being an ambitious artist, my goal is to better my art practice and art technique, evolve as a person through enriched life experience and to then translate that into my art and paintings. I fell in love with Gallery Perrotin the first time I went there to check out a show. The space is beautiful and dreamy. My artworks have a lot of colour but come out of the concept of dreams and it would be a dream to be able to exhibit at this space.

Lost Journey, Y.R. Egon Gouache on paper, 16″ x 20″, 2019

ANTE.: You are a poet and have trained as an engineer, alongside your work as an artist and fashion designer. How do you unite all of these disparate elements in your painting? Has it shaped how you approach art-making?

Y.R.: Yes, I studied Engineering and graduated from the University of Mumbai. I write poems but only to express my ideas through another medium. I studied Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design. I am in process of launching some garments/apparel that are inspired from my paintings from the ‘kaiho’ collection. Hence, I feel that even though they all are separate fields, it all boils down to an expression of ideas as they come together in a product or in works of art. I try to carry the same romantic feeling and emotion in all my works including my fashion illustrations. I specifically use watercolours for these, and in my next series of paintings, I plan to experiment more with watercolour in order to capture the haziness of the lost memories.

ANTE.: How has working in fashion impacted your work as a painter? Do you work with a variety of materials as a result? 

Y.R.: As a fashion designer, I stand by the principles of creative construction and sustainability. I use only natural fabrics and natural dyeing on them. I also use fabric as a medium to paint and specifically natural dyed fabric which is dyed with the colours made from plants such as logwood, madder and flowers such as marigold and berries as well. I also plan to make my own natural pigments from these plants and flowers and natural materials to paint on stretched fabrics such as cotton and silk.

ANTE.: More specifically, does your work as a painter shift in scale due to your background in the fashion industry?

Y.R.: I actually am not that experimental or easily accepting to change. Hence, I try to usually paint in a certain style and on a certain size as well. But again, the scale changes a bit when it is translated on apparel or fabric paintings.

Colorful Houses, Y.R. Egon Gouache on paper, 16″ x 20″, 2019

ANTE.: You’re now based in Brooklyn, NY, and have exhibited with The Greenpoint Gallery and Dacia Gallery. How does living in NYC impact your practice as an artist?

Y.R.: NYC is very dynamic and inspirational, Brooklyn specifically is the epicentre for the modern, contemporary and experimental art that is not commercial. I recently exhibited at the ‘Space 776’ as a part of their Bushwick open studios which was covered by Hyperallergic magazine! I find Brooklyn as a very important factor of my stay in the city and is very inspirational and also motivational to see and meet other artists and their work. I have exhibited at various galleries in Manhattan and Brooklyn and that serves as a booster for myself and my art practice.

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