In another life, Roy Tamboli would be an astrophysicist. Or a mystic. In this life, however, the Memphis native composes poems through the medium of paint and canvas that seek to express the mystery of creation and the continuum of existence. “The other day a friend asked me what these paintings were about. I told him it’s a search for the supreme commander,” Tamboli says. “I believe we live in multiple layers of existence, a place where the boundaries of time and the difference between the physical and spiritual don’t exist.” Using a plaster-masking techniques, layering strata of oil paint, and juxtaposing hot and cold chroma against one another, Tamboli captures a sense of ordered chaos and unresolved geometry that articulates the protean nature of existence. “The paintings are always coming together and falling apart. Nothing is really fixed in them. It’s all sort of exploding,” Tamboli says. “I think of them as equations I’m trying to solve, but I don’t want to solve them either. I am building a place for the eyes and mind to play and discover.” A descendent of Italian immigrants who settled in the Mississippi Delta, Tamboli engaged with spirituality and mysticism at a young age by way of the Roman Catholic Church and the African American gospel culture surrounding him. He now applies the same quality of wonder and complexity via Kabbalah and Buddhist teachings to his process and creates abstractions of joy and the sublime. “When you’re dealing with mysticism, there are no easy formulas or solutions. It’s bushwhacking deep inside one’s innermost self with paint and a brush. Eventually you come to a clearing with a brief view of the divine,” Tamboli says. “Abstract expressionism was a great beginning. At some point it needed substance and meaning that would push it beyond mere technique. It needed stories. One of the intentions of my new paintings is to invoke and conjure a new optimism, a highly charged, positive celebration of a brighter future, cheerful, festive, and deep. I believe it’s an innate function of artists to participate in the creation of the future we desire. If artists don’t give light to a better world, then who will?” Tamboli studied fine arts at the University of Memphis and has exhibited large-scale bronze and steel sculptures, print works, paintings, and other media on a global scale.