Notes from a photographer #2

Wendel Field

American Painter who lives in Tiruvannamalai

Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013
Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013

Today, I would like to present Wendel Field, an American painter who has spent almost 15 years in India. Wendel Field is born in Indiana, United States. Wendel’s mother was an artist and his cousin was an art historian… the inherited art legacy was palpable in Wendel at a very young age, and he started painting when he was just 4 years old. Wendel didn’t opt for a formal art education until he was in his late 20’s and studied art in Indiana University. Meantime his passion for art grew exponentially and he says with a chuckle, “I can’t stop [painting]”. In the year 1970 Wendel visited India for the first time. He says, “Making a very long story short, one day, somebody came to my home and said, here is the money… Go to India … I came to Pondy and then heard of Sri Ramana and came to Tiruvannamalai. I stayed almost 9 months and didn’t return until 1990s. Since then I visited Tiruvannamalai every year. In the year 2012, I moved to Tiruvannamalai”.

During his first visit to India, Yogi Ram Suratkumar became Wendel’s best friend. They used to hang out every night. Those times Yogi Ram Suratkumar was living in the streets. Most often he hangs out near the temple. Almost everyday Wendel used to meet Yogi Ram Suratkumar and often travel with him to nearby villages. He fondly recollects, “Yogi never used to talk about spirituality. He was very funny, innocent like a child. He has the best laugh I have ever seen and heard…. Whenever people ask questions about spirituality rather than giving a straight response, he used to poke them. People often miss the pun”. When asked about Yogi’s interest in art, Wendel said, “He used to see and enjoy my paintings. I remember one of his comments. Once I was doing a painting of spiritual images of different religions.. he looked at it and said, ‘actually you should make those tits bigger’. Although I had a hearty laugh, it did make sense to me, as the full image of that woman goddess would look much better with his suggestion.” Wendel’s experience with Yogi along with one of his painting has been featured in a chronological book on Yogi done by a community in Arizona. The first four chapters discuss wendel’s memoir of the Yogi.

Painting by Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013
Painting by Wendel Field / Photograph (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Photograph courtesy EtP Archives / 2013

Wendel does a lot of commissioned works. Wendel did his first portrait of Ramana when he was just 19 years old. When asked about his repeated inclusion of the spiritual subjects in his paintings, he said, “To me, it is the Mystical Realism… a combination of what is in a photograph and also something more that is not in a photograph…”

Abul Kalam Azad

8th October 2014


Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”


All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the Abul Kalam azad and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Text transcribed by Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi (C) EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / / FACEBOOK – Project 365