Sixth Annual IAAC 2009 Erasing Borders Exhibition of Contemporary
Indian Art of the Diaspora

Gautam Rao

Gautam Rao

Artist Statement

For the show- IAAC 2009 Erasing Borders Exhibition, I am submitting a video entitled "Restless Portrait: A Disappearing Painting". This is a recent video completed in September, 2008.

This work seems like a perfect fit for the exhibit because it deals directly with the idea of erasing and the mutability of identity. The audio heard in the piece, a work entitled ""Rain On the Motherland" by Kazuki Mishima, was selected because the instruments used, including the sitar, reference my Indian heritage. The syncopation of the frenetic beats mimic the pitter patter of the brushwork as the canvas is covered in a drizzle of paint strokes.

This work engages the discipline of portraiture in a new and innovative manner. The impulse for this work stems from the realization of the static nature of traditional portrait painting. The half-smile of the Mona Lisa is frozen forever, and Juan de Pareja gazes out at us, as nobly as the day he sat for the portrait. I realize that I will never see Juan de Pareja blink, and it seems to me that that is the power of these paintings- their enigma and steadfastness. In painting myself, I have a sense that I am an altogether more neurotic person, living in a more unstable time, more twitchy and jittery. The video captures the painting of a self portrait on a single canvas, as the image is painted and repainted continually. There is a sense that a painting is never finished, that the act itself is somehow futile and that the end result is a blank canvas, simply more pock-marked and scarred than at the beginning, but just as uncommunicative.

This video simply aims to make all of that painting and repainting, all the searching, corrections and dried paint visible and explicit. We can see the process before our eyes, and draw our own conclusions. Using the medium of video, it is possible to capture the blinking of the subject. It is possible to capture the shifts and tilting of restless human beings and there is a sense of animation, where once all movement was only implied.

Although painting is thought of as a medium that celebrates permanence, and paintings live in museums and attics for hundreds of years, we are living in altogether more uncertain times and this painting video speaks of an era where paintings are destroyed immediately after they are created. I still have the canvas that is visible in this video, and I continue to paint new paintings on it.


1977 Born in Washington D.C.
1987-1992 Lived in Bangalore, India
1999 BFA from Boston University
2002 MFA from the University of Pennsylvania
2004-present Assistant Professor of Visual Studies, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana

2004 - Present Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator
Art and Visual Culture Program, Jordan College of Fine Arts
Butler University, Indianapolis, IN
Teach Drawing, Painting, Photography, Graphic Design, Multimedia and Art History
2002-2004 Instructor
Maryland College of Art and Design, Silver Spring, MD Taught Painting I, Drawing I, Photography II, Printmaking and 3-D Design
2002-2004 Adjunct Professor
Northern Virginia Community College, Woodbridge, VA
2002 University of Pennsylvania, M.F.A. in Visual Art
1999 Boston University, B.F.A. Cum Laude, Major in Visual Art, Minor in Art History
1995-1997 Cornell University, Majors: Visual Art and Art History
Grants and Awards
2007 Individual Artist Grant Recipient, Indiana Arts Commission
2001-2002 Chairman's Merit Scholarship, School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania
2001 Recipient, The Susan Coslett Cromwell Traveling Fellowship
2001 Juror's Award, Juried Exhibition, The Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC
1999 Arches Award, North American Print Biennial, Boston, MA
1995 ward in Visual Arts, The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts
1995 Constatin Alajalov Award, Boston University
1994 Sharpe Scholar, Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation
Public Art, Design Work and Conference Presentations
2007 "Urban Windows" Public Art Project Grant Recipient
Large-Scale Digital Print will be on display in the heart of Downtown Indianapolis
starting in October of this year.
2007 Arts Council of Indianapolis Art Fan Project Grant Recipient
Chosen to design an Art Fan, of which 10,000 copies were printed for distribution
at summer arts events.
2005 Identity program for Herron High School, Indianapolis, IN.
Campaign includes design of logo and publicity materials, including the letterhead,
posters, flyers and other documents
2005 Produced complete graphic design program for the Women's History Month
Committee, including logo, 500 run three-color poster, flyers and table tents
2003 Learning Through Origami: An Interactive Workshop, National Conference of
The National Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students
2002 Keynote Speaker, Asian Pacific Forum, The Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC
Public Collections
2006 Musical Day, (oil painting) permanent collection,
Garfield Park Arts Center, Indianapolis. IN
2005 A Glimpse of Wacky World, (digital photograph) permanent collection,
WFYI Metropolitan Indianapolis Public Broadcasting Inc.
2005 Nighttime Travelers, (oil painting) permanent collection,
Irwin Library of Butler University
Selected Exhibitons
2008 "Calculating Art" Juried Exhibit, Therese A. Maloney Art Gallery, Morristown, NJ
2008 "OverLoad" Juried Exhibit, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Athens, GA
2008 "Paperwork" Juried Exhibit, Dean Johnson Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
2007 "Indians/Indians" Juried Exhibit, Garfield Park Arts Center, Indianapolis, IN
2007 Indy Fringe Juried Exhibition, Dean Johnson Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
2006 3rd Annual IDADA Juried Exhibition, Indianapolis, IN
2006 "ICE: Inter-Collegiate Exhibition", Garfield Park Arts Center, Indianapolis, IN
2006 "HINDI 500", Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis, IN
2006 "Impromptu", 4 Star Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
2005 15th Annual Butler University Children's Literature Conference, Indianapolis, IN
2004 Before the Storm: Recent Paintings, The Orchard Gallery, Bethesda MD
2004 "Snap to Grid", Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Los Angeles, CA
2003 Ninth Annual Juried Show, Yellow Barn Gallery, Glen Echo, MD
2002, 2003 Faculty Exhibition, Maryland College of Art and Design, Silver Spring, MD
2002 Korean National University of the Arts Print Exhibition, Seoul, Korea
2002 Gautam Rao: Recent Work, The Federal Reserve Board, Washington DC
2002 Gautam Rao: Recent Paintings, Yellow Barn Gallery, Glen Echo MD
2002 College Art Association Regional MFA Exhibition, Philadelphia, PA
2001 Juried Exhibition, The Federal Reserve Board, Washington DC
2001 An Indian Summer: Paintings of Bangalore, Graduate Center,
University of Pennsylvania
1998 Juried Show, Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts, Cambridge MA
1997 Selected Artists, The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY
Studio Prints, Hartell Gallery, Ithaca, NY
1996 Recent Works, Yellow Barn Gallery, Glen Echo, MD
Board and Professional Memberships
2005-present Founding Board Member, Herron High School, Indianapolis IN,
2006-present Advisory Board Member, Garfield Park Arts Center, Indianapolis IN, College Art Association
  IDADA- Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Selected Bibliography
21 Nov 2001 Baljee, Keshav, "Grad Center turns to students for art" The Daily Pennsylvanian,
12 July 2006 Bloggers Blog "Artist Uses Blog to Sell Paintings of Tech Gadgets" Bloggers Blog.
16 Nov 2006 (
8 May 2001 Hirani, Kanak, "Portrait of an artist painting Bangalore" The Times of India,
19 July 2006 Martz, John "Mac OS X Paintings" Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog.
16 Nov 2006 (
18 May 2006 Pogue, David "Still Life With Mac" Pogue's Posts. The New York Times,
16 Nov 2006 (
13 May 2006 Wired Blogs "OS X Oil Paintings" Cult of Mac.
16 Nov 2006 (
16 May 2006 Yamamoto, Mike "The Macintosh as a Work of Art" CNet News Blog.
Macintosh and PC environments, Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, ImageReady, Flash, Dreamweaver, Quark XPress, and iMovie
Professional References
1. Diane Timmerman
  Professor of Theatre
Theatre Department
Butler University
Telephone: (h) (317) 858-0624 (w) (317) 940-9875
2. Dr. John Turner
  Assistant Professor of Art History
Department of Media Arts
Butler University
Telephone: (h) (317) 323-0920 (w) (317) 940-3054
3. Dr. Elizabeth Mix
  Assistant Professor of Art History
Department of Media Arts
Butler University
Telephone: (w) (317) 940-6457

Home   About Us   Current Events   NewsLetter   Tickets  Membership/Contributions   Events Archive
Art   Books   Dance   Fashion   Film   Music   Theatre  

©2002 Indo-American Arts Council Inc.
146West 29th St, #7R-3, New York, NY 10001. Phone: 212 594 3685 Fax: 212 594 8476
Email: Web: