From Dwight Jurling, Director, Marketing Services in Taipei
Some people like to march to a different drummer. While the world is falling in love with the new kaleidoscope painting tools in Painter 12, one man has forged an entirely different path – to arrive at a very similar space.
Enter Baraas Zer – artist, activist, teacher and CorelDRAW user. In a fruitful career, Baraas has worked as a software specialist, a script writer and in the printing industry. His family hails from Keelung on the northern coast of Taiwan and represents a mix of Hakka and Hoklo peoples. People often ask him about his name. Years ago, when living in Taitung, the elders of an Amis tribe gave it to him. It means “slightness of physical power but great strength of character.”
Baraas’s latest project, 我的麥田圈曼陀羅二 (MY Crop Circles Mandala II), is a series of 17 works exploring the intersection of religious, pop and psychedelic art. Mandalas are geometric figures representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Crop circles are the stuff of urban legends that some link to extraterrestrial phenomena.
Some of Baraas’s work is playful. Some of it is intricate and elaborate. I think Andy Warhol would be pretty chuffed.
I ran into Baraas at the recent Painter 20th anniversary party in Taipei. Baraas spoke about the feeling and meaning he wants to share with people who see his art.
“Visual art needs to refer back to the essential personal feelings of the viewer. I hope that when people see my work, they react with some of wonder one feels when looking at crop circles. Is it possible they were made by aliens?
“Of course, I am an earthling and I’ve worked hard, especially in my recent work, to connect the patterns I create with the history of our world. But my work also adheres to the principle that the lines exist on their own and, as such, offer the opportunity for anyone to re-imagine them in a way that suits them. In fact, I consider it the highest honor when my work can serve as a creative jumping-off point for others.
I asked him how he landed in his latest adventure:
“This work has progressed in stages to what you see now. Last July I completed my first set of Crop Circles/Mandalas, following quite strict guidelines. The works were in black and white and represented a pure exploration of geometric shapes. I followed my inner feelings without constraint.
“By August, I moved from pure abstraction to shapes tied to history and events, for example the September 21, 1999 earthquake in Taiwan. By Chinese New Year of this year, I expanded my approach and started working in color.
“With this second album, I have further broadened my approach to incorporate brighter colors and text elements while further bringing the works into contact with current events.”
I asked Baraas what he likes best about creating this type of art in CorelDRAW.
“DRAW, for me, is clearly the most comprehensive and convenient tool for creating geometric shapes. Specifically, I use the 3-Point Elipse tool, the Complex Star tool and the new Object Coordinates docker in X5. Without these tools, this project would be impossible!”
Looking forward, I asked Baraas about his future plans. If there will be a MY Crop Circles Mandala III?
“Yes. This June, I have an exhibit in Tainan, in southern Taiwan. After that I plan to start a new series and create a new work every day. So I’m keen to complete a third album, a fourth and more…”
“Beyond that I am really looking forward to starting a pure Mandala series with Painter 12. For these works, I am thinking to move away from the strict rules of crop circle geometry and work exclusively in the Mandala space. I’m looking forward to creating something new and really exciting.”
You can find Baaras on Facebook at Baraas Zer (曹育維). Friend him up. See how art is making a difference in Taiwan today.