Duncan Hall

Businessman Raj Gupta, who runs the island-based investment management firm Invictus RG, is to hold his first solo art exhibition beginning on Friday at the Bermuda Society of Arts.

Mr Gupta won art competitions as a child in India, but he said his art career ended abruptly as the pressures of being poor in a third world country made him focus on earning a living.

He earned a scholarship to Princeton University, studying engineering and international affairs and was the valedictorian of his graduating class.

His career began at Goldman Sachs in New York. But while he concentrated on hedge funds, he retained a deep interest in art, dragging his sometimes reluctant friends to one exhibition after another.

Mr Gupta launched Invictus RG in Bermuda seven years ago.

He was reintroduced to art 13 years ago.

Confronted with a traumatic loss, Mr Gupta bought art supplies and began to paint.

He said: “I hadn’t painted since I was a child and then I dived in.

“I had no goal, no objective, no framework, no guide, no viewer and no critic. I painted in isolation almost non-stop for several weeks. Until finally, I felt nothing.

“I had somehow managed to pour all the sadness and grief and loss that I felt on to the canvas. Now it was the canvas that carried the weight. I was light … and free.”

As time progressed, Mr Gupta taught himself new techniques “and the art came out”.

As he followed his artistic path, he realised that art and philosophy are “inextricably intertwined”. He is now writing a book about philosophy.

He contributed: “Art is the physical manifestation of a specific philosophy, a particular way of thinking. Each of us coexists in an internal world and an external world.

“The internal world is made up of thoughts, emotions and dreams. The external world is the world of objects, beings, actions and events. Art can be inspired by either the internal world or the external world.”

It is sometimes after the creative process, he said, that he understands “the philosophy behind the flow”.

Mr Gupta added: “To me, that is the creative process.”

On Friday, Mr Gupta’s exhibition, entitled You Need to Leave the Classroom, will open at the BSOA in Hamilton from 5pm until 7pm. It will run until September 13.

He will also give an artist’s talk next Tuesday from 5.30pm until 7pm at the BSOA. Both events are free to attend.

The BSOA described the exhibition as “a profoundly thought-provoking visual and mental contemplation that poses and ponders some of the fundamental queries of philosophy”.

The gallery said that Mr Gupta’s “art practice is focused on expressing the internal state of his mind: thoughts, emotions, dreams and ideas, using mostly, but not exclusively, subjective, non-representational and abstract means for doing so”.

The BSOA added: “This exhibition serves as a vibrant, ongoing dialogue between the thoughts, ideas and emotions that consume our inner world and their expression in a physical work of art.”

Mr Gupta said that the name of the exhibition “is a metaphor. It’s not just the classroom of a school, but how people traditionally view the world.

“The art is meant to provoke the idea that there is an alternate reality.”

The exhibition includes 25 pieces and will incorporate an “interesting soundtrack” during the opening, Mr Gupta said, as well as being lit in a way that viewers may find surprising.

He said: “I want the viewer, for one brief instant, to ask, ‘Was the art world I just experienced my reality? Or is the world we are used to our reality?’

“For a brief instant, I would like to provoke this disorientation.”

Mr Gupta said: “I hope viewers will stop for a few minutes in front of each painting and decide what it means for their inner life.”

Art, he said, must have elements of beauty, surprise, a sense of capture and awe — and there must be a journey.

He added: “Ultimately there should be a sense of catharsis as the viewer finally and reluctantly disengages from the art piece and rejoins the external world of perceived reality.”

Mr Gupta said that his “current interests lie in creating multisensory, immersive experiences that satisfy my five principles of great art and take the viewer on a visual, aural and tactile voyage across space and time, while simultaneously contributing to the revelation of those mystic truths that (American conceptual artist) Bruce Nauman so aesthetically espoused”.

Mr Gupta said he hopes that visitors will be intrigued by the exhibition.

He said: “They don’t necessarily have to appreciate every piece or agree with my thought process.

“As long as it intrigues them, and sets them off on their own intellectual and emotional journey, then it’s a success.

“I hope they will buy prints and support the BSOA.

“Supporting the art scene in Bermuda is the biggest driver of why I am doing this.”