Abhayavajra Newman was born in 1949 and painting has always been a significant part of his life. He trained at Wimbledon School of Art (BA) and the Slade (MA) between 1969 and 1976. The South West Arts Council presented a one-person exhibition of his work in 1978.
After that, he found his painting practice was increasingly undermined by doubt. Asking ‘Why am I painting?’, ‘What should I be painting?’ and ‘How should I be painting?’ he found only superficial answers, and lost confidence in what he was doing as an artist. As a result, his engagement with painting shifted sideways into teaching art and working in theatre design.
In 1990 he became critically ill and was forced to let go of all ideas about life and art. Emerging from over a year of illness, he experienced a growing sense of openness and freedom from expectations. This took him in another direction, away from painting, which eventually led to ordination as a Buddhist in 1995.
After many more years away from the studio, Abhayavajra began to ask ‘What would painting would be like now?’, ‘Will its meaning have changed? ‘This curiosity grew increasingly insistent and eventually became an imperative. He retreated into the studio and has spent many thousands of hours exploring those questions.
Since then, there has been a building momentum in his work. Now, any questions are more likely to open up possibilities than close them down. ‘Why am I painting?’, ‘What should I be painting?’ and ‘How should I be painting?’ are all answered by Let’s find out!