Thursday 29 March 2012

ISTRI - by Prashant Hirlekar

(Artist: Prashant Hirlekar)
This story is slightly different from a verse- it’s simple and lucid. It begins with a dawn in Pawar chawl. Morning, in chawl, has its own routine and pace, with people hurriedly moving carrying canister, some lingering souls, while brushing their teeth are busy peeping in neighbor’s house to know the morning current affairs, loud fighting noise of women at the common tap competing to fill the water for household, some sly lads busy in stealing other’s newspaper, Mr. Patkar from room no.07 sending his son to stand in queue of public toilet on his behalf to so that he reaches office in time and so on.

The other day, as usual Shantabai filled water, took bath and called out her son Madhav to wake up. Madhav woke up,  twisting the body he jerked his sloth. He folded sheet, yawned and ordered his mother Shantabai, “Aai, give me tea. So, Madhav of this story, is Madhav Vasudev Joshi, the only son of late Vasudev Joshi. His education was left incomplete, he studied only till second year B.Sc, as, two years back Vasu uncle had a heart attack in office and died. Madhav got the job in his place. All his peers were jealous of him because they had completed their education and it was almost two years that they were not having proper job; and here Madhav had such a good job with incomplete education. Father’s death had graced his luck!
Shantabai gave him tea and khari biscuits. She was very proud of Madhav as he handled lot of work in the office and his boss would shoulder him the responsibility of important assignments. Till he got his tea, Madhav engrossed himself in the newspaper and read share prices on share- market page. Recently he had started learning about share-market from Jignesh, his office colleague. He would simply read out the share prices in newspaper to people in chawl and talk about it with them. He would tell about price hike in A.C. C and drop in B. C. C. Whenever he spoke like this, Shantabai would be delighted to hear it and start thinking of getting him married soon and having daughter-in-law. And there were many people in chawl who dotted Madhav as ideal bachelor. They were keen to anchor him to be their son-in-law. One among them on the forefront was Suma, daughter of Kirkire from room no. 27. Her mother encouraged her to rope in Madhav. Suma had two more sisters. The second one of them was Chima, a complete heroine package! Surpassing her sisters, she would always be decked with make-up, lipstick, powder, flower in tresses and always humming a film song. Madhav madly adored her. He often dreamt that he and Chima have been for a movie, sat close to each other and chatted in hush- hush voice in between the crackling sound of munching wafers.  

On that critical day, Madhav was as usual reading the newspaper while sipping tea. People were busy with their routine chores and suddenly they heard loud cry of Mrs. Kirkire from room no. 27. Patekar, Naik, Madhav, Shantabai and everyone else rushed towards the room no.27. What was wrong? Had something happened to Kirkire uncle? But he was fine till yesterday!
As people gathered there, they saw Kirkire aunty sitting down with widespread legs and Kirkire uncle was sitting beside her looking distressed with forehead rested on palm and a blank look. After all, why was she crying? The detailed reason was known to whole chawl later on.

 It happened so, that Chima had eloped with Rama Chaube’s son and Rama Chaube was taken into custody by police. Rama Chaube was Istriwala- man who ironed the clothes. He had his shop in a room under the staircase of chawl. Gopi was his son, young loafer, who usually broke pot on the occasion of Dahi handi. People in the chawl were totally ignorant about his affair with Chima. But her eloping was shocking to all the people. Every person was now busy in consoling Kirkire couple. Madhav was taken aback and his throat went dry, suddenly he remembered that his boss had demanded completed statements’ file of Blue Bird Company. In a hoarse voice he told Shantabai that he was leaving for office. He put on his shoes and with a sighing heart left to go.

- Written by Jayant Bahitat  Translated by: Pankaja JK.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Feeling the Presence in Absence! Remembering Prabhakar Barwe - by Pankaja JK

Prabhakar Barwe (1936 – 1995)
“When all the paths in all the directions are closed, the only path left is that of painting and by God's grace it is always open”.- Prabhakar Barwe

The above quotation is from his book 'Kora Canvas', written in Marathi. True to his words, he lived and died as a painter. For him painting was the source of life. Indian Contemporary Art is incomplete without the mention of Prabhakar Barwe. He was an heir of artistic fervor. His granduncle V.P.Karmarkar was a famous sculptor and his father was an artist in Bombay studio. He carried forward the family tradition. To enhance his torrid artistic zeal he joined J.J.School of Art in Mumbai. During his formative years as a student, along with the formal education he got an opportunity to work in Weavers Service Centre where fine artists worked for the development of modern Indian textile design. Here he worked along with fine artists like Ambadas, Gautam Waghela and Subramanyan.

After his graduation in 1959, he experimented on canvas by placing every kind of material that could be held on canvas to vent his feelings. It was a search for individual identity as a painter. This search for self was important to discover that untrodden path which he wanted to explore in visual art.

From 1961 to 1965 he stayed and worked in Varanasi, the city rich with Hindu tradition and culture. Here he came across the tantric symbolism which grabbed his attention and inspired him. He painted skulls, bones, stones, graphs the basic objects associated with it. He thus developed Tantric style of painting. Though a firm believer in present and not worried about past or future, reading horoscope became his hobby. The pieces of writing containing astrologer's calculations and predictions, the shapes of horoscopes, the restricted lines, the scattered numbers in blocks along with sun, moon and planets, the luck and ill luck that they brought along, their transition from one block to another and beliefs of human beings in alteration of their lives depending on positioning of these elements found place on Barwe's canvas.

He belonged to the twentieth century, an era when the world was moving at the speed of light towards modernism and technological developments and where natural was replaced by material. Every vice and virtue was calculated in commercial value. He amalgamated concrete and the abstract and made us realize the co-relation of the two. He tried to give emotional touch to the impassive surrounding and developed a metaphysical dimension in his art. Barwe's experiment with glossy enamel paint diluted in turpentine enhanced the metaphysical dimension of his art. His poetic sensibility vibrated in his works. His work clearly represents ordinary objects having emotional, mystical associations. Their dictionary meaning looses its hold. The conventional definition of mundane thing gets lost. The painting becomes subjective rather than objective. To illustrate, 'the leaf', that he painted in its fresh and dried forms in various paintings, does not have limitation of being a part of plant or a tree, but represents life, the living and the dead. The 'Blue Cloud', which gained him National prize at Lalit Kala Academy's exhibition at Delhi, had a lonely cloud floating across the sky on a cloudy rainy day. This cloud can be symbolically interpreted as a cloud in William Wordsworth's famous poem Daffodis, where poet says '... I wandered lonely as a cloud…' and discovers the crowd of golden daffodils. Similarly, this lonely cloud on a cloudy day seems to be in search of something or maybe it moves around without any goal. The sentiments can be associated to the movements of a lonely person. It can be funny or sad at the same time. The perception of cloud thus is the imagination, the vision of the beholder rather than any fastidious meaning by Barwe. His proficiency in painting was with viewer's vision. He had subtle relation of concrete form with abstraction. It gave the space to the observer to perceive his paintings subjectively. He employed the conceptual devices of Surrealism, placed simple objects and ephemeral shapes presenting an unusual piece of art.

Sure of the development that would take place in art, he was open to new technologies; but always favoured  guarding individuality and freedom as an artist and never falling prey to mechanization. This is evident from the fact that in 1991 the first ever Computer- based Art was to be held in India, and the nine well- known artists M.F.Hussain, Navjot Altaf, Akbar Padamsee, Manjit Bawa, Prabhakar Barwe, Laxman Shreshtha, Manu Parekh and S.H. Raza were invited for thirty days training course on computer to develop their artwork for a show. When the show traveled to Delhi in February 1993 and held at NGMA, there was an informal discussion with critic Kamla Kapoor. The conversation reflected the views and experiences of Barwe on use of computer technology in art. He welcomed the advancement in art which gave larger scope to artists to express themselves. Reckoning its pros and cons, he alerted artists that it should not be used at the cost of their creative freedom. Barwe expressed his apprehension of being dragged and lost in the vast world of colors, texture and image manipulation that computer offered. So talking about himself he said that he was apprehensive of losing his creative freedom so he decided to restrict himself to two dimensional and graphic possibilities. Due to these technological liberties and scope the Pop Art Movement launched the banal objects of our everyday lives into the realm of fine art. Prabakhar Barwe showed his skill in creating intimacy between these objects and life.

Evidently, his interest in astrological calculation and speculations reflected in his last creations. The possibilities are strong as we take into consideration his last exhibition when he was hospitalized. The exhibition was held at Chemould Art Gallery in the year 1995. It was a group show called 'A Broder Spectrum-II', which had Barwe's five water color paintings painted a few months before he was hospitalized. The images were that of garland of dried leaves, a wrist watch, human skull, envelopes, and a scale were suggestive of his nearing death and projected his sentience of death.

As a painter he won an award instituted by the Japanese newspaper Yoshihari Shimbun. In 1976 he won an award at the annual exhibition of the Lalit Kala Akademi. Towards the end of his life he wrote a book in Marathi called 'Kora (Blank) Canvas', which is the documentation of his feelings, expressions, struggles and satisfaction as an artist.

Truly, a great artist who taught us to be sensitive, to perceive beyond physical appearance, put breath in inanimate things and made us think beyond set meanings.

153 Years Old yet Young at Heart: Mumbai's Sir JJ School of Art

The trance aura at another corner, the liveliness and argumentative atmosphere at one corner and faces that are lost in their own world of creativity hurrying to put their thoughts on canvas, sculpt it or express it through various means like installations or other medias.

Sir JJ School of Art bustles with liveliness and youthful enthusiasm day in and day out. It has miraculous effect and it charms you so much that you get attracted to its buzzing activities in one corner

One of the oldest institutions, Sir JJ School of Art is located in city of Mumbai. It was founded in March 1857 named after Sir Jamsatjee Jeejeboy who donated 100, 000 rupees for its endowment. It is beautiful with vast campus full of foliage, age old trees and neo -gothic architecture, heritage buildings standing strong with the modern architecture, and the grand interiors with artistic setup at every nook and corner. Other than this treasure it has the tradition of having the best Indian creative minds who have stirred the world with their creations. 

The legacy of legends trained at this institute continues till date with modern contemporary artists graduating from this institute. Many contemporary artists have experienced living under the British colonial rule as well as living in the post colonial period. Charles Gerard the Director of Sir JJ School of Art introduced modernistic concept in academics and thus these artists were influenced by western art. Alumni of JJ School of Art include Akbar Padamsee, Jatin Das, MF Husain, SH Raza, VS Gaitonde, FN Souza, Tyeb Mehta, Krishna Hebbar, Satish Gujral, Jehangir Sabavala and many more. 

VS Gaitonde

The legends have a very interesting creative journey. It is a matter of fact that every artist is affected by the prevailing social, economic and political conditions of the period that he lives in, so was the case with these artists. During the British period these artists, then the students were academically exposed to western art. But the nationalist fervor was ignited in them when FN Souza established Bombay Progressive Artists' group immediately after Independence. This group had short life but was successful in giving new direction to expression of visual art. The prominent artists of this group included MF Husain, SH Raza, Manishi Dey were the early members later SK Bakre, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta associated with the group. Later VS Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna and Mohan Samant joined the group. The Progressive Artists' Group combined Indian subject matter with Post-Impressionist colors, Cubist forms and brusque, Expressionistic styles. 

Mumbai is fortunate to have some of the living legends staying here who experienced colonial atmosphere or were students of this institute in early years of Independence. To name the few who live and work in Mumbai are Akbar Padamsee, Jehangir Sabaval, Dilip Ranade, Prabhakar Kolte. A star who has a strong hold over his passion of art and is a master in expressing his creativity through various mediums is Akbar Padamsee. His work ranges from the figurative to the non- figurative. Right from painting on canvas he has adopted technology of photography and digital painting. He has diversified his skill in different branches like film making, being an art critique and as a sculpture artist. His metascapes, mirror- images and sculptures are magnetic. Like other senior artists, he too, was a part of two different phases in India ie before and after Independence. Whether it is a sketch on paper or a sculpture, human head and human figure and expression of human instincts is his preferred subject. He portrays common man and his reaction to the surrounding aura. His metascapes which are basically landscapes. In his metascapes the landscapes are devoid of any natural elements and they are just metaphysical experiences of time and space. The computer graphics that he worked on is the further extension of the same effect. His colonial and post- colonial experiences were exhibited in recent years in the exhibitions held in India and abroad. 

His recent group exhibitions include 'Progressive to Altermodern: 62 Years of Indian Modern Art' at Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 2009; 'Faces' at Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai, and 'Freedom 2008 Sixty Years of Indian Independence' at the Centre for International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata in 2008. He is meticulous, ever energetic and enthusiastic thinker. Mumbai also takes pride is having a Padma Shri awarded great artist who lives in Mumbai and he is Jehangir Sabavala. His work has most features of city; though not necessarily Mumbai, it includes landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes. His modernistic and classical unity in his paintings has been a challenge even to the artists born in modern age. He prefers disguised images to loud and flashy projections. His mastery over light, color and texture is the result of his vision. He attributes his style of painting to his academic training and it is an amalgamation of Cubism and Impressionism. 

( Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy)

There is a kind of serene and tranquil feeling when we look at his paintings. There is intensity and universal feeling exhibited in his works which is thus devoid of any territorial boundaries. Dilip Ranade focuses on static form of life when he presents fossilized sculptures. He focuses on human instincts which includes struggle between good and evil and man's survival instincts. His non-human forms of life such as animals, plants and other living organisms are representation of human characters. Ironically his paintings are pleasing yet thought stirring. Prabhakar Kolte was a student and also taught there for about two decades. He is much influenced by VS Gaitonde and Paul Klee. His paintings have formless sensation and are without any symbolism or pre defined boundaries. For him his paintings are just rush of feelings that just gets its color and form on canvas. It is simply the action and not the reaction. 

To sum up, it is a matter of great pride that all these great artists of JJ School of Art are renowned and have become icons of how to cope with prevailing conditions, developing their own styles, being perfectionists, and adopting advanced practices in art thereby spreading the fame of Indian contemporary art around the world.

- By Pankaja JK

(above Images for illustrative purposes only, we have no copyright)

Stimulating Thoughts Pankaja JK in conversation with Chintan Upadhyay - interview.

Pankaja JK in conversation with Chintan Upadhyay 
(Artist :Chithan Upadhaya)

Disturbing Chintan Upadhyay in his busy schedule and ultimately getting an interview was a kind of annexing a difficult citadel. But here it was not my efforts but his kindness and friendly gesture helped me to get his interview for “Art : News & Views” magazine. This short and precise conversation shows his stronghold over his beliefs and sensitivity towards everything that he confronts in his life, be it human relation, technology or nature. The following conversation highlights it: 

PK: As your name goes 'Chintan' you are really so concerned with the social causes. Are you 'an artist for social cause'? 

CU: I would say that directly or indirectly every artist is in one way or the other related to social cause. They are concerned with the social issues. And even I feel sensitivity towards some issues and express my feelings against them in my art. 

PK: Your creations, or say, installations are based on practical aspects of life rather than just giving an artistic pleasure. Do you enjoy this status of being a thoughtful artist and not purely an artist portraying romanticism with life? 

CU: I am a thoughtful artist. People cannot say that an art is created purely for artistic pleasure. Art is not a creation in isolation, it has got some stimuli, some subject. So it extends beyond just artistic pleasure. 

PK: Your 'Alec Babies' created wonder and stir in art world. How did this idea strike you and was there any particular reason to paint them with miniature paintings? 

CU: If you look at these babies you will find them homogeneous. So they represent homogeneous concerns. But the only thing that differentiates them is the Indian miniature paintings on them. Without these paintings they would be nowhere. In fact these paintings are their identity. I have chosen it deliberately. If we look at the modern trend of the world, we find everywhere in the world people are developing similar tastes in terms of clothing, food and lifestyle. There is a development of mall culture, famous brands which are widely available, so there is a kind of analogous behaviour throughout the world. So when one tries to move out of this identical zone, he searches for ethnicity. This ethnicity is an attraction. Alec babies portray this ethnicity, they stand out as Indian and therefore they stand out from others. 

PK: Your installations have been developed as factory products and also developed with the use of native skill. Do you find any difference between the use of technology and handcrafted installations? 

CU: Technology works as a tool for me. I use it as a medium to develop my images. Traditional knowledge that I amalgamate provides me with information. They give me new ideas. But it is not always necessary that I adopt these ideas and work upon my original thoughts. But at times I do think over them. 

PK: Were you always inclined to be an artist? Has any artist influenced you? 

CU: No, I never wanted to be an artist. In fact, I wanted to be an architect. But I think being in any of these fields involves creativity. So my creative urges are satisfied as an artist. Speaking about influences, I have many. I cannot name anyone in particular. My influences range from people of art world to a layman. My thinking process is influenced by the situation around, the nature, the technology and almost everything. 

PK: How do you analyse it? 

CU: You see, everything around you is changing. Take an example of Bollywood; the outfits and the dance have got under western influence. After the Chinese product have taken hold over our market we find even a common man has started believing and getting attracted towards Feng Shui along with the Vastu Shastra. And all these things do influence my creative process. A man has to be thoughtful and when we start thinking, we start creating. Now we all know about Obama's visit to India, its purpose and its outcome. Still, as an artist I think over it. My thinking may be different from others, and in the same way hundred minds may think in hundred different ways. That's good for progress. And it is personally good for me as an artist, for it acts indirectly or unknowingly as a metaphor in my work. 

PK:  Can we have a peep in the lighter mood of Chintan Upadhyay? Do you remember any humorous moment in relation to your artistic progression which has made a mark on you? 

CU: I love partying! I hail from Rajasthan which is a very colourful city, and so I love colors. The thing that I find very humorous is when people ask me to stop making 'babies'. People always look out for sensation and they have a kind of consumer mentality where they constantly look for 'latest' or change. They develop boredom when they see same thing for longer time. They expect me to give them some thing different from these Alec babies and that makes me laugh and feel sad towards their way of thinking. These Alec babies are not just products; they are the thoughts, expression and feelings. Don't have a surface view, understand the depth of it. Of course, I don't want to force anybody to admire it. But when they ask me to stop producing these babies I feel sorry for them. They seem to ironically conflict their own thought process. I doubt their admiration for art. Basically I am a provocative artist. I like to provoke people. If they show mediocre attitude and feel dejected if I do not stop producing these babies, then I think I have provoked them and by repeatedly boosting on stopping to produce them, they are provoking me. But my art is not based on someone's guidance about what I should be doing. It's totally my world and my creation…whether you like it or not… 

PK: Your artistic journey is filled with social causes, awareness and rebellion against male chauvinism. Do you intend to write an autobiography in future? 

CU: Oh! I am not a biography material. I cannot write about myself. Though I like to read autobiographies, I might not do justice while penning my life (smiles…signs off). 

Sunday 25 March 2012

Where ever I stumble, let painting lie before me

Pankaja JK (J.K.) in conversation with Prabhakar Kolte (P.K.)

(Studio Photo of Prabhakar Kolte)

'Art news & views' magazine's initiative to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wassily Kandinsky's manifesto 'Concerning Spiritual in Art' is a blissful delight. Taking this opportunity I had the pleasure to meet and interview the contemporary Abstract Art artist and icon, Shri. Prabhakar Kolte. He is lovingly known as 'Kolte Sir' by artists and his students. Though I have read lot of literature written about him as a maestro of Abstract Art, an excellent teacher and a philanthropist, I had lot of apprehension before starting the interview. To my own surprise, his warm gesture, understanding and patience made me so comfortable that interview turned out to be an informal affair and I got to know more about Art of expression and about Kolte Sir in the session. Here is the excerpt of the interview:

J.K.: Good evening Sir. Sir, 'Art News n Views' is celebrating 100th anniversary of Wassily Kandinsky's 'Concerning Spiritual in Art', I would like to know your views about Wassily Kadinsky and what he really meant by 'Concerning Spiritual in Art'. Did he mean to project spiritualism?

P. K.: It's a welcoming gesture on part of 'Art News n views' to pay respect to this great Abstract Art pioneer by celebrating 100th anniversary of his book. Many people have mistaken the title. It is not about spirituality, but about a dual effect that one has after seeing an abstract painting, one is the physical form and another which is very essence of art and that is the effect of colours that provoke inner resonance or emotional stir and vibrancy of soul. This is the spiritual effect and not the physical state of spirituality. Taking the essence of that which is material and natural and depicting them in subtle way and with the use of colours. His art was a revival in the field of painting. His paintings tap all the sensory organs. It is an amalgamation of light and colours. It is the external light that travels within and multiplies in various colours. His greatness lies in the breaking away from conventional art. He created autonomous status for paintings. Independence from any conventional bonds is Abstract and it is all because of Kandinsky.

J.K.: What must have prompted Kandinsky to discover this form of Art?

P. K.: Every age and generation have their own reasons to invent and develop new style in every field be it way of living, technology, food, shelter or art. Kandinsky moved away from 'decorative' creations to 'abstraction'. Landscapes and portraits were projected only in the suggestive style because like his fellow countrymen he too was fed up of the political, social and religious turmoil in the society. It was a break away from conventional art and a conscious move towards abstraction. It was not just physical representation of a thing or a figure. The paintings had a language that spoke more than volumes. It was s self realization. This aspect of self realization is very important in Abstract Art otherwise the creation remains just a splash of colours and figures without any expressions.

J.K.: Do you find difference between Indian Abstract Art and foreign counterparts?

P.K.: I find a major difference in both. I feel Western Art gives more importance to the process of making a painting. It moves from the surface to the core of a subject. Indian Abstraction shows a totally opposite nature, where in the movement is from core to the surface of the subject, and interestingly, this surface is not the known surface but it is the consciousness.

J.K.: Sir, abstract art has come a long way from being painted on paper and canvas. It is expressed in installations and with the help of digital techniques. Do you approve this?

P. K.: I am very happy with this progress. It is the sign of growth and development. Of course development is not new thing or a wonder. Right from the time human being started exploring art he has expressed it with the resources that were available at that particular time. From painting on stones, wall paintings, paper, canvas and so on we have reached a stage where the idea can be put in reality within a few minutes with the use of technology. It saves the time and efforts and gives an opportunity to explore more possibilities of enhancing your art. I welcome this change, this advancement. Progress and understanding goes hand in hand. World changes when man change and adopting change is a sign of progress. The precaution should be taken not to fiddle with the basic motive of painting/ art and that is the sublime joy that it imparts to art lover.

J.K.: Sir, do you think physical global journey is compulsory to develop our knowledge?

P. K.: I would rather say that interaction with your surrounding and people of various cultures provide lot of knowledge and understanding. Physical mobility is a good idea. If you think that you are not getting enough of what you are looking for and sure to find it somewhere else, go for it. Yes you can go and get it, but boosting on your stay at a particular place is a mediocre attitude. Whatever knowledge you gain should speak through your work and not just in your bio data. Your attitude should be that of artistic maturation and not career centered. Your global experiences should be felt through art, being exhibitionist, boosting your stay is too bad. Let people have the curiosity to know from where you acquired the knowledge. Reading, any and every type of literature from any part of the world is as good as physically traveling to the places. It is not your global physical presence that matters; it is you yourself being global in mind and soul which is important.

J.K.: Sir, you have boldly faced hard time and now enjoying good phase of your life. Do you remember any anecdote that you found ironic to your life's experiences? 

P.K.: Yes I do remember this incident which happened after I was established and famous. It was a time when I was not worried about having money to buy canvas or colours; it was a time when I was fully involved in my artistic maturation. A person approached me and offered me a lump sum amount in a brief case. In an ordering tone, of course in lowered tone he commanded me to paint a particular size canvas with something in red. I coldly looked at the person and gently denied the proposal. I had never compromised on my art or never painted according to whims of anybody even when I was badly in need of money for the painting material and this person was trying to 'buy' me and my principles. It was totally against my principles and situation, I would say that it was like….“When in need I had not, now I need not”… I shared this experience with my dear friend Ganesh Haloi and we had a hearty laugh at the irony of the situation.

J.K.: Sir, your paintings are unique, I hope you reveal the secret of your art to your fans.

P. K.: It is surely my inner voice that guides me to paint. I observe almost everything that comes in front of me. Some things touch my soul but I do not pose them directly in my painting. I do not believe in observing and then painting, I rather like to first paint and then observe and feel its effect. This gives me immense satisfaction of creation and adjoins significance to my painting. My painting is Something out of Nothing but Not of Something.

J.K.: Sir, Shri. Ganesh Haloi and your friendship is very famous. Can I call you 'birds of same feathers'?

P. K.: (elated) O Sure! We share same vibes. He (Ganesh) is such a great person. He is a great artist, a philanthropist and one of the best teachers of the world. I have high regards for him. We have been friends since long and still we continue to share our life's experiences and enjoy every moment of it. Even though we are nestled in different and far away states that has not hampered our friendship at all. There are people like Ganesh who have been my well wishers and I owe them a lot. These include my drawing teacher in school Joshi Sir, Gaytonde whose life and paintings have always inspired me, loving Palshikar sir and a few people who are not at all related to art world and yet proved to be my inspiration throughout life.

J.K.: You are known as poet- painter. I would like to conclude the interview with your poem that reflects 'Kolte'.

P. K.: We may be here or not be here, we may be remembered or our memories might be wiped out, why should then its proof be collected? Always hold as many hands, look into others' eyes passionately. There is variation in language (of hope?) but hope is intoxicating, wherever I stumble only a painting may lie before me. Live and die living behind deep principle, considering that there will never be a second life to do it.



Perception of Abstract in forms (art etc. news & views) Emami Chisel Art Pvt. Ltd.- Kolkata

Garima Jayadevan

Giving the observer a liberty to decipher the painting according to his vision is the uniqueness of an Abstract Art. It is just like a horizon where a sky and water integrate without fine lines or boundaries. It's the subjective perception of guessing the bonding line of well presented objects of nature. It becomes more and more surmisable and that's the beauty!  Garima's work is closely resembles this beauty. Her work is not figureless yet it depicts intuitive insights of mind.

She states, “For me abstraction is the way of seeing and perceiving. It's not about figureless and non-representational works, but about the spiritual and intuitive insights of the mind. Abstraction refers mainly on the conceptual level. It is not a departure from the reality, but another perspective of it, which is more intense and attained only by going beyond the external presence. I believe most of the contemporary works happening in this time, including the installations, video art, sound art etc are abstract in nature. They always ask the viewer to go beyond the external forms or what they see. They all propose to interact at a conceptual level than objective state. Not necessarily to be direct, they are more likely to be metaphorical in disposition.”

In this context she agrees with Brancusi according to whom admirers of his work are imbeciles and the abstraction observed by them is but a purest realism whose reality is not presented by exterior form but by the idea behind it, the essence of the work.

The obscurity behind each work has to be deciphered by the viewer by his/her own ways. She connects it with music, where the wordings or the language are not very important, but the process of satisfying the creative impulse through experience and vision is more relevant. The theoretical discriminations are purely away from her mind when she works.

Her works are like journeys of emotions and thoughts inside her; journeys of subconscious through visual conscious. According to her Abstraction is not a trained or intended obsession. An artist cannot develop an idiom of art without developing a cognitive sense. One cannot transform an object on canvas till there is development of the vision, which is the very essence of painting. These maturities of thought peep through her paintings.

The inspiration for her creations are the spaces and people she confronts in everyday life, it encourages her to interact more, to draw more, to paint more and search the possibilities of her expressions. The journey from inspiration to instigation of painting is represented by the dots in her works. They cross and travel from one part to the other and it is the progression from one thought to the other. It is her mind that is in search of new ones. She scratches the layers to peep beyond them and attempt to transcend the conventional and oppressed consciousness.

She tries to depict herself through the friction of the dualities that she witness in her surroundings and me. She confirms that this friction is the inspiration for most of her creations.

Garima's installations are the instantaneous reactions to particular spaces and time. They are improvisational sites in which the constructed and the ready-made are used to question our making of the world through language and knowledge. The arrangements in her installations are primitive at the same time graphic, inviting the viewer to move into a gap of reflection. For this she relies on the desire for beauty, poetics and seduction. Her work continues in these traditions by constructing environments that directly and meaningfully react to viewers' presence and engagement. The language is honest and at the same time sublime to translate the mundane in to the spectacular while dealing with the issues of identity and relationship of self to environment.

While defining her working style she states, “I work with my intuition, knowing my limits, which give me the comfort of being what I am. My aim is always to express my thoughts fully through any medium and style, which are suitable for my work.”

Hansodnya Tambe

The art of painting is a tree of many branches. It is characteristic of an artist or a painter to recognise his own nature and inclination towards one of these branches, and seek his creation by that approach. Painting cannot be defined in exact terms. The act and state of consciously transferring/ letting flow one's spirit into a space itself is art, and this can be said and felt not just in painting but in every field. In the modern-day art scene, 'visual' is a medium in painting. Colour, line, shape, are the factors of the visual language, and these go to create what can be called 'visual-linguistic forms', that determine the structure of a work of art. In this way a pictorial language and a visual language takes shape/ is formed. Content and self-expression ('abhivyakti') are very important arms of a work of art. Of these, content often becomes apparent through the visual-linguistic structure. But the visual language of each painting carries its own different arrangement/assembly/order of colour, line and shape/form. Though the science of modern visual language may have traced uniform and standard principles that can apply to all or most works of art, abstract or otherwise, it cannot be denied that every visual language differs in its order and system, for visual language is not a static actuality but a perennial process subject to transformation.

The grammar of visual language and in fact, its very property of being a visual language, depends on the scientific concepts and traditions of the artist who works on the base of his comprehension of the visual language. But for this to happen, the availability research material and thought on relevant subjects is necessary. Society and art have an inter-dependent relationship. The ongoing painting traditions that are of a scientific/theoretical and analytical nature live on even today. The synthesis of such painting traditions and their science, theory and thought with society establishes a visual language.

“Siddhanta amchyakarta nahit, amhi siddhantakarta ahot.” says Vinoba Bhave. Just as there isn't a simple and straight method or formula of receiving, perceiving, analyzing art, there neither is such a way to be found for painting, nor for understanding and realizing visual language. All art students, painters, and all those who follow and appreciate art must realize and keep in mind this fundamental and important truth/fact.

“Apna baddha kaamna parinaam mindu che.” Going by this saying of Gandhiji, the ultimate result and effect of all our work is zero. But this zero is not to be taken (especially in the Indian context) at face value. It encompasses many things within itself. Place it before a digit and the value multiplies, place it before and it reduces or remain the same. And this is not in a mathematical sense alone. That is, the one who has the wish to understand and appreciate art, and create art in a visual language, has to understand those things that are not outwardly apparent. He has to also absorb the presence and essence of that which is intrinsic. This aspect should be taken into account by a sensitizer (I deliberately use the word sensitizer instead of artist here, for it presupposes the above mentioned understanding and the function of an artist to be and make sensitive.) when he creates a work of art.

How then is one to evaluate art? Progress, development and value cannot be measured on economic grounds alone. A fair evaluation can only be possible when one grasps and keeps the distinction between science and theory, and develops an unbiased, equitable/ all-embracing vision. Such a vision applies everywhere to a person, people, society, philosophy/thought, and to art. Understanding of concepts such as nature, culture, action, inversion, diversion, psyche, attitude, conditioning, refinement, structure, form, unrest, etc. is essential. Only then does outer visible form, idealized form, transformation, translation and pictorial transfiguration materialize spontaneously on the canvas. This is one of the processes that go to create a superior and genuine seer/perceiver (artist). He is the one who truly comprehends in an expansive sense the relation and correlation between seer/viewer, visible, visual, and view and that is when he is able to articulate and express through painting, effectually sensitizing the receiver. At such a stage all distinctions and classifications such as abstract, figurative, etc are nullified.

Nowadays one sees an increasing commercialization, commodification and branding in the field of art which is responsible for a disappearance of self-esteem and ethics. Pop singer Baba Sehgal had released a song called 'Main bhi Madonna' in the early 1990s. We are not concerned with what he wanted to convey through the song, but recently there had been a seminar called 'hum bhi Madonna' organized at the NCPA about the increasing tendency of Indian artists to blindly emulate the western trends. Such artists and their art do not have a solid base. They get onto a bandwagon of self-declared artists and at times drag in their relations and children onto it too. The desire for material security in their own future rather than a concern for the future of art itself is evident in their actions, speech and work. All this adversely affects art. Every artist must bear in mind that such a situation renders art an outsider/alienates art and thus leaves the society devoid of the artistic element. Only then can this harmful tendency be curbed.

In conclusion, I wish to say that a proper assimilation of knowledge, science, theory and literature will help art to flourish on all levels and in entirety, and thus a true language of art will begin to take shape.

K.L. Santosh

Abstract art has come far ahead from use of conventional materials of canvas, paper and colors. It is now expressed in installations, digital medium and so on. One of such out of the way is the work of K.L. Santosh, an artist from Mumbai. An art graduate from Sir J. J. School of Arts has a unique medium of expressing his thoughts and that is through using matchsticks on ply.

The basic elements of his paintings are male and female. He uses matchsticks and the geometric forms made by them represent male and female. The horizontal or vertical placement of matchsticks represent male and triangle represents female. These paintings illustrate male and female relationship. He started working using matchsticks right from the days in Art college and the first creation was 'Khajuraho Night' based on the famous Khajuraho temple. He then worked on 'Krishna' his next painting where he showed one male amongst thousands of female. Here he used approximately five thousand five hundred and fifty matchsticks for female form and at the centre was an abstract image of Krishna in ceramics. This was a mixed medium. Even now his paintings are based on mixed medium and he says that from the very beginning he loved to experiment in using various mediums.

His work stands out because, unlike the basic of Abstract art where expression is formless and expressed through colors, he uses very less colors and highlight more on forms, though most of them are geometric figures. This may be because of Prabhakar Barve, the great painter whom he admires for the forms and their placement in his paintings. He also has high regards for Prabhakar Kolte.

One can also find the traces of Warli paintings in his works. He reasons that there is a repetitive form in his paintings because for him repeating the same thing again and again means a total involvement with it which is like a meditation, concentration and ultimate nirvana of the soul. To put in his own words, “Like a Warli painter who depicts his life by drawing it on one background, even I try to portray my life's experiences, influences and curiosities using repetition on a single colored background.”

With his artistic progression' there emerged a change in his forms. With being more geometric in forms, of course the use of mix mediums still continues. In his 'Mumbai- Shanghai' show he made an installation called 'Why not', in which he had used the glass cover to suggest that progress is good only without neglecting nature.

These meditative paintings are very valuable in this stressful and competitive era. 

Nilesh Shilkar

'To each his own'… Abstract painting is a genre where an artist speaks his mind in an unbounded way without conventional forms. The thoughts are subtle yet powerful. One such promising artist is Nilesh Shilkar from Mumbai. He has touched upon the very basic requirement of visual art admiration- the 'vision' or ability to see. It is obvious that a blind person would guess the beauty of the world only through touch and read it in Braille script for the details. Nilesh's work is very similar to Braille script. He puts it, “My works initially resemble Braille scripts, on close inspection, and the shapes reveal themselves as cells. I am concerned with mutation, and the idea of something beautiful, like a cell, mutating into something treacherous yet emotionally stimulating.”

Though the paintings do not have a very happy or soothing effect on us and makes us think of pain, still it mesmerizes with the thoughts that it projects. He uses concept of cell and its mutation in different forms. These forms do not take shape of any human or animal figure. The metamorphosis of cell is nothing but our vulnerability. It is also a projection of beauty and fragility that goes hand in hand with helplessness. His artistic mission is to represent the structures of knowledge and beliefs that we use to understand and visualize. His work is constantly expanding and evolving. It steams from occult practices, traditions and scientific elements and principles. The work defines the development of Universe and limits of human being to comprehend its complexity in simplicity. It is this juxtaposition that creates wonder.

Nilesh prefers to work on paper. The pricking of paper for three dimensional effect and creating a sprawling narrative structure is a highlight of his painting. He defines his work as a minimal expression and we can feel its recurrence in almost every painting. The paintings are no lavish dash of bright and light colors. In fact minimum objects on vast spacious single colored background speak volumes. Earlier in his formative years as an artist he was involved in painting landscapes. The vastness of landscapes is still projected in the empty spaces in his work. He did his post school education in Mumbai. He still lives here but shuttles between Mumbai and his native Konkan, a very beautiful coastline where there is abundance of nature. The contrasting lifestyle of both places and difference of psyche play an important role in his work. His work is impulsive and touches us emotional rather than making us judgmental.

Looking at his experimentation of creating a three dimensional effect in Abstract art, is a welcoming advent it is a sign of a bright future for Abstract Art.

By Pankaja JK  

Translation Editing by Pankaja J K

 M.F.Husain was a legend and legend doesn't die, he gets transformed into things he had intimately accustomed with during his life time.

The particular body which we associate with Husain was his I-Card, his habitat and a vehicle of conveyance i.e his body which was fit and fine until a few days before his demise. . Whenever I had come across him I observed that he was never in his body but with his body, utilizing it as an instrument of prime importance. The reason might be, that he knew that God had gifted him such a beautiful and long lasting natural vehicle bearing wings of imagination so that it could help him to fly very high where others wouldn't even dare to dream.
(copyright photograph by @Tathi Premchand)
Along with the vehicle God also gave him the key which was, the liberty to operate himself. He had taken every care to maintain the vehicle and the key with discipline and good lifestyle. But on 8th June 2011 at an unfortunate moment he forgot the key inside his prestigious vehicle and locked himself out eternally. That unexpected tragedy forced him to leave the body forever. But naturally his physical existence became eternal and then he spiritually migrated to his most sought-after things that include the nation he belonged to as his birth right, floated in the memory of his father, mother and his wife, his prospering children, grand and great-grand children, people he loved and people who loved him. He left his memories in his paintings and his tools. His future always brought to him challenges and his exotic dreams that he saw with closed eyes and broad intellect.

His field of association was so vast that his process of spiritual migration must be still on. For him it must be like a pilgrimage which I believe will continue further perpetually on a more intensive level on coming auspicious day known as ASHADI EKADASHI in Pandharpur where he was born.  He had been very dearly associated with his childhood memories of this place. Thus his voyage will complete its first round and will begin the next one, and then the next one and next one and so on till the human beings and their creativity exist on earth.

This is the time to remember his contribution, (and not the controversies).
And therefore I would like to share briefly with you my personal studies cum observations about him and his work right from my student-days till today.

In sixties and seventies of the last century , beside Jehangir Art Gallery there were only four galleries in Mumbai, Chemould, Pundole, Chetna and Taj Mahal Hotel The number of artists were also less and amongst them the prominent presence of Husain could be felt everywhere in the art field. Husain was well known then as he is today and surely will remain in future too.  Why is it so? I asked myself and the answer that I inferred was that, while doing his own work he has worked silently and endeavoring some reformation in the art field. Very few must have noticed it. He never announce publicly how he is going to do it, proclamation was never a part of his self esteemed nature because as we all know he was a man of few but appropriate words. To serve the art and art-field he did not form any group or organization or a movement but walked all alone with utmost desire holding close to his heart, mind and soul and applied his sense of social awareness, organizational skill as well as the capacity to activate it impressively to best possible extend.

If you observe and analyze the phases of his work and journey as a social being you will realize that what so ever he did, apparently seemed benefitting himself but in reality, it also benefitted painting artist community in particular and art field in general. On the contrary his life and works reflect the extent to which he sacrificed himself to uplift the Indian art. Let me prove it by describing briefly the changes he introduced through his work attributing to bridging the gap between artists, their art and public.

If you remember his work from fifties when art was not a public affair but limited to elite class of the society, you will notice that even during those days he had pure passion for art and art alone. He was painting for art sake. It was appreciated by few connoisseurs who would sometimes buy it for their personal collections. But very soon he realized that this would not help art and artists’community in true sense and therefore he must have decided in his heart to take art to the public at large.

By that time his other major companions, Raza, Souza and Bakare, from the Progressive Group had left India and settled abroad. Had all the progressives stayed here, their presence would have laid the foundation for the culture of art in our country. (In Europe the inventors of isms and movements did not leave their establishments which has helped their culture of art get rooted in the very soil that proudly upholds their contribution for many centuries) The history of modern Indian Art would have remained on the lips of the public and not buried in the history which after fifty years is excavated in pieces with wrong motivations.  So Husain alone took the responsibility to lay such foundation without proclaiming it, and since then his work, his approach, his behavior in the public changed. He painted horses; he painted generic subjects, even marriage cards and wooden toys; but of course, not in a traditional manner but with a conviction and style adopted by Progressives.

Nothing was forbidden to him. His fingers always fleeted and his eyes were sharp and penetrative. He had known the magic of becoming one with the matter he perceived. He used to invent new methods, mediums and subjects that would create sensation in the public. In seventies a devastating cyclone occurred in Andhra Pradesh and he took a giant emotional leap to go closer to Indian people. He exhibited brilliant paintings which had made a lasting impact on Indian mind and it had served his purpose of making art communicate with masses to some extent.

Then came the period of Emergency and he openly supported the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi by painting three huge canvases dedicated to her vision and spirit. By then he was already in the lime -light but this venture of his put him under constant focus.

(copyright photograph by @Tathi Premchand)
Later on he did many experiments with his art and environments, carried on stunts in the public places like walking bare-feet which at one time prohibited him from entering a five star hotel, white- washed his own works thus, astonishing the public. When hunters were killing wild animals he tried to save them in the form of his painting. He kept giving exotic interviews from time to time which would lead to gossiping. Then onwards he constantly remained in the news. He did everything he could do and all that lead to attracting masses to his art and art of others too. But frankly speaking, his vision for classical art and passionate involvement in his personal idiom suffered a setback. He became a popular artist of the masses. Today almost every Indian knows him.

This man of conviction and commitment could have easily worked just for himself and produced comparatively less number of works and enjoyed the coveted place of a genius. He himself knew it and that is why a few years back, while commenting on Gaitonde he said "Gai is genius, I am just popular." This very statement is also sufficient to prove that only genius can recognize another genius. But genius of Husain preferred to be popular aiming to make art popular which has ultimately helped other artists and their art to become popular.

I also know that Husain had taken with him buyers to art exhibitions of young artists and convinced them to buy artworks. It will take time for us to realize what we would greatly miss without him today onward and what we didn't realize during his lifetime.

Today we see that large numbers of appreciators are attracted towards art in the country, it’s mainly due to him and this is the worthless contribution of an one man army called Husain.

An artist who began his passionate journey in art by painting cinema posters and raised himself to the status of a legend.
I am fortunate to meet him on several occasions and witness him painting and watching his brilliant work in my life time.

I salute him from the very core of my heart!

- Prabhakar Kolte