Thursday 23 August 2012

Epitome of Abstraction from Mumbai Artists at United Art Fair- Pankaja JK

Going ... United Art Fair 27-30 September | Pragati Maidan | New Delhi

Art has come a long way from being just a matter of passion and entered a commercial avenue with global exposure. United Art Fair includes established and upcoming talents who paint, sculpt and create installations. There are nearly more than 350 artists selected from all over the world to showcase their work.
Annurag Sharma, Director of UAF is successful in providing opportunity to discover the value and diversity of art. Annurag Sharma promotes a wonderful interaction between artists and patrons providing superb experience to both, the art-lover and creator.

Johny M. L. one of the rebel fighters for art right, also a curator in this Art Fair has chosen exclusive works by various artists. In this article, I, (Pankaja JK), have abstracted work of four outstanding visual artist from Mumbai, viz: Tathi Premchand, Sanjay Sawant, Sweety Joshi and Satish Wavare, who work in different mediums other than in typical traditional style of using colors on canvas.
It always interests me to watch work in group show rather than individual shows, so even this Fair is going to be a fascinating one. I had the opportunity to visit some artist in their studios and see the process of their creation and how the final outcome takes place through their creative process. Following paragraphs are addressed to their works with illumination on them in their own words.

Sweety Joshi

United : size 10x7 Mix media on rice paper
First of all I would mention about Sweety Joshi as a painter and an individual. She is a soft spoken artist, with composed personality and her work somewhere projects her personality. Her uniqueness lies in the use of rice paper for every creation, subtle use of colors and most importantly ‘burning and the kind of impression created by the burnt effect. She creates 3- dimensional works but refuses to call them installations and frames them just like any other painting. The paintings are all eye catching even if the process of making them is similar. So out of curiosity I asked her a few question on the deliberate fixations that she has in her works and she justified them as follows:
Q: Tell me about your passion for painting and were you exposed to artistic environment inspiring your painter’s instinct?
S.J: I do not have any painting background at my home. Though I have relatives in other creative fields such as writing and drama, but I always looked at my surrounding with a painter’s view. Whatever reality I saw around absorbed as a visual in my mind and heart. Every subtle thing attract my attention. ---- I like to unfold the layers of reality and visualize it in profile angle. The visuals are usually lyrical in nature and ultimately they develop as rhythmic and construction compositions as I go on creating my works.

Q:  You use layers of rice papers and bond them with threads, why is it so?
S.J: I love to work using rice paper because of its transparency. The delicacy of paper makes it as my visualization to burn it and even the burnt edges and the carbon that spreads on the sheet makes it look attractive. I do not glue the paper but stitch them because for me it seems like a lifeline, a blood vessel, a vein that flows through body, just like that threads are lifelines of my painting helping them breathe, live and develop. There are layer of rice paper bonded together. Each layer of rice paper is full of energy, it nurtures my visualization and I am able to give it a 3-D effect too.

Q: Many people feel ‘burning’ is a negative aspect. What is the significance of ‘burning’ in your paintings?
S.J: As a painter my most coveted color is ‘black’. All my paintings have black color in them. Black represents energy. I always wanted ‘my very own black’ and not the ready- made one, the black shades which would project light and shadow play just like deliberate transition of a day from light to darkness and vice-a-versa, transition from materialistic being to meditative soul and as proportionate body structure engulf the transparent, sensitive soul within. Initially I tried using various things like bottled colors, pencil, charcoal etc, but they failed to give me the desired black, smudged on rolling and folding the final paintings or they lacked durability. Then I started burning the paper and created ‘my black’ which magically stretches itself in such a way that it seemed to flow as per my wish. The point of finish of black and start of white becomes subtle and illusory. This could only be done by burning. Yes, many people have pointed out that burning is a negative act and suggested me to stop using it in my creations. But for me it is completely positive process. Don’t we burn candles and lamps in front of God? Throughout the process of living we go through various experiences which characterize us and burning in my painting also characterizes my painting daubing it with light and dark shades. Also in 3-D works, cracks and holes are formed on the paper, light passes through them and a shade falls on the background, which gives dept to the painting. It is like enthusiastic exploration of mind, experiences and soul.
Q: Do you want to try your hands at new medium?
S.J: There is no plan as such at present, because I am fully satisfied working in this medium and feel I have lot more to explore and create.
JK: All the best for all your ongoing and future projects.
S.J: Thank you very much.

Sanjay Sawant
United : size 22x28" Mix media on paper
Next artist was Sanjay Sawant, a cheerful, expressive personality. Being from J.J. School Of Art, highly accomplished in his art, receiver of many prestigious  awards during college and professional days, he later on took up the profession of a lecturer in Art Colleges and taught in various states of Maharashtra. He is also a seasoned writer. He resigned as a lecturer at a very young age and became an independent Abstract painter to nurture his love for painting. During his process he attended many workshops all around the world, which exposed him to diverse environment, culture and traditions which he finely incorporated in his creations. He has an unusual style of painting. The chief materials that he works with are the gold and silver foils and light green shaded cotton paper used to produce envelopes. He pastes this on large, medium and small canvasses with subtle dash of color between the spaces. He is very clear about the inspirations for his work, use of material and his identification as an artist.
Q: Did your academics and profession as a lecturer have any contribution to your creation?
S.S: I owe a lot to Sir J. J. School of Art. No artists should deny the role of Art School that he or she attends before establishing one self. I proudly say that I had an expertise in portrait painting. I received lot of accolades for it too. Portraiture involved capturing the features of human face, but I realized that a face is the exposure of thoughts and mindset, the environment that he lives in and experiences as an individual. I was also fascinated by inanimate things around and I felt like drawing their portraits. I think that is where my experimentation began. So I painted them in portrait form. Today my horizons of capturing inanimate objects have widened and now I portray space. Nature engulfs us; it is our vision to link our spirit with space. I am able to fuse my spirit with nature and be one with it and so I can do painting. Nature does not remain a space for me but it becomes ‘me, an undetectable part of me’. My experience of teaching taught me to enter into the core of objects.

Q: What instigated you to use golden and silver  foils and envelope in your painting?
S.S: As I said, I started experimenting in my art; I found the foil in cigarette packets appealing to me with their fragile texture and shine. As I always admire flowing water in sea and rivers and calm water in lakes, I could feel the shine of water in this silver foil. I especially like to be near vast water bodies during night time, when there is reflection of sky and heavenly bodies in the water, the hazed sight of clear water and the rhythm produced due to waves and water that rush towards bank and slowly recedes. I could produce these effects using aluminum foil and faint use of colors in spaces between the spaces after pasting the pieces foils on canvas, Golden foils gives me energy of sun, Envelope feel like wrinkled, matured skin with traces of life’s experiences, it is like a skin which is very delicate and soft to touch, I feel envelope paper is a container of love. So I use it in paintings to make my painting appear animated rather than mere characterless painting. 
 Q: What inspires you to paint?
S. S: Space and spirit are my real inspirations. Every space of matter becomes a womb which resurrects me with every creation. Visuals are external bodies and I impregnate soul in it. Thus, it becomes a divine process and I am myself mystified with this the phenomenon breathing new life into my visuals. I take inspiration from my immediate environment. The images that I see get abstracted in my thoughts because I do not want to present replicas of what I see but their effects and appeals,  whether it is a landscape, incident or situation but the their effects and appeals. So my creativity is not static and repetitive but dynamic and varied.

Q: How would you justify your paintings?
S.S: One can relate oneself with my painting so I am happy with it. My medium of creation is my identity which would remain intact in any form that I would opt to create. I enjoy creative process and search of painting is my main goal, so ups and downs of commercial do not shatter the artist in me. I have my own style. There are serious art lovers who have faith in me and they love and support my art.

JK: Thank you for sharing your creative journey with us.
S. S: It’s my pleasure!

Satish Wavare
United : size 10x19 Mix media on wooden comb
I had a short conversation with Satish Wavare, an artist who balances his act as a passionate painter who is clear about take on his individual art.  He is a graduate in drawing and painting from Sir, J. J. School of Art, Mumbai and specialized in portrait painting during his academic years. His evolutions in painting lead him towards choosing abstract over portrait painting and choosing a medium of wood carved combs. Unusual and unheard! But, he is successful in his work and has been a part of many shows and exhibitions all over India and even abroad. He works in Mumbai. Following excerpt is my inquisitive probe into his chosen medium for painting:
Q: Why did you choose wooden comb as your base for painting?
 S.W.: I was always fascinated by the shape of comb and it was usual found in our house right from childhood. My father was a priest and very often as the ritual a few things that a married woman should posses and obligated to wear is offered to Goddess. One of the things that were offered to Goddess by my father was this mini sized wooden comb. I liked it very much. In later stages of my development as an artist I decided to paint on small and medium sized wooden combs and it was bliss to find the effect very attractive and then I continued using it as a medium. The small even spaces in it and broad strip to hold it works as a texture and there is a kind of movement one can feel while observing the painting on it.  Now I am so obsessed with it that I personally feel that my painting process is complete only when I become one with form, color, line, wood, paper, water, oil, pencil, ink. 
Q: You always mount your creation on black background, any particular reason behind it?
S.W.:  ‘Black’ is my favorite color; it is vibrant and very vigorous. There is no particular reason but I feel black background gives a finishing touch to my paintings. 
Q: Does your profession have impact on your passion? 
S.W: I am very close to nature and natural environment had always been and will always remain my inspiration. The stretched ocean water, the waves currents, bio –treasure, shells and conches all become my visuals, which gets refined into abstract forms and ultimately become my painting. It is a gradual process of creation. The varied colors at sea becomes a challenge, because it is quiet tricky to make colors that match exactly with that found in nature. I also meet people with varied characters they also add essence to my creation.
Q: Do you plan to experiment with different materials like fiber, plastic combs etc.
S.W: There is no plan to change the material of comb in near future. Working on wooden comb has become my identity and I am in no hurry to wipe out my identity. According to me exercising experimentation in same medium, helps an artist to add more depth to that kind of work and he achieves more maturity in it. 
Q: So, how would you explain your relation with art?
S.W.: When I paint, my painting is personified, I have dialogue with it.  There is a depth in our bonding and the imprints that my paintings leave on my being is my vehicle for the journey from the known to the unknown. There is a give and take kind of relation, where I try to give it a face though abstracted form, in exchange it gives me immense pleasure, satisfaction and makes me peaceful.
Q: What about trend of adopting new technology or raising installations? Don’t you feel like changing your medium?
S. W: I do not believe in aping. Just because everyone is adopting installation, I would not do the same, nor would I adopt different medium to make an impression of being modern progressive artists. I would do these things only when they would really appeal to my artistic senses. For example, I would only involve in installation art, if something around me stimulates me to do so and if I find that the installation speaks more of its relation to world around and not just stand as a structure without conception. 
JK: So that explains your spiritual approach towards art.
S.W.: Yes and that lies in the core of my creativity, total devotion and dedication to art; very important for me and my creativity…

Tathi Premchand
The Indian Dhobi Ghat- 1
Digital artworks details Epson inkjet on vinyl with mat pasted on sun-board. Size 45x33"

Finally, I discussed with Tathi Premchand on his Digital Art. He is chatty, cheerful and always brimming with eagerness to know and tell about anything novel that he comes across. His enthusiasm to probe and explore innovative techniques can be felt through his talks and on his social networking communication. His belief in progressive and innovative art can be seen throughout his journey of growing as a painter. Some of his latest works are the perfect examples of his penchant for technological advancement in field of painting art. He now works on Digital Art. His work seems quiet rebellious and society concerned. His sensitivity towards society makes his work more appreciable and considerate. I guess he finds romanticism in simple joys and sorrows of people. To know more about Tathi’s work I asked him a few questions to which he readily answered with firm determination. 
Q: What appealed you to plunge into digital art?
TP: Basically I am always attracted towards innovation. Technology is a perfect area of introducing new methods of working. Computers and software have advantage over manual work. I choose to go Digital as it gives me the desired effect of sorting and placing the images. I am always takes one single photographic image clicked inside the local train. Through one of the graphics software, he creates three more images of the same photograph but in three reverse directions – one just 180 degrees upside down, one 90 degree turn to left and the third one is 180 degree reverse of the last one. Most of my artwork is the four dimension extension of a digital photography. Some viewer feel, its look like Mandala, river image, kaleidoscope, and this art form is very old art in India; you can see things in Buddhism  and Hindu’s god temple in form of mural art and God painting. Similar in my digital artworks are bright colors are omnipresent along with pure white color on clothesline, well arranged to dry the clothes. The gushing water, slogging washer men, heap of dirty and clean clothes together represent a mini image of a society that we live in.
This unusual place of muse speaks volumes about society itself right from ancient times to modern day. Briefly, washer men for dirty linings…anyone to cleanse the soul? This placid place with bustling activities and philosophical values be with us forever-

Q: What is the subject line of your Digital creation?
TP: I do not define boundaries of subject line. All my traditional style of work in paints and pastels on canvas and the latest Digital art are based on my observation of daily life of people around me. I stay in Mumbai which is a perfect place to find street dwellers as well as mansion owners. I try to portray them in my work exposing the critical part of it and the role it plays in forming the society. For example a street child enjoying showers from the cracked water pipeline or a public laundry at Mahalakshmi or perished textile mills and high rises right in front of these mills, the textile mills which were important earning source of commoners in Mumbai, these and such topics are subjects of my Digital Art.

Q: Your work sensitizes the topic and seems to be a thoughtful process and I personally feel that they would represent the history of our times after a century.
TP: It is fine that you feel so. But I create because I am sensitive towards societal issues. I like to paint social issues and make a critical statement through my work. But it is not always a seriousness that I capture but lighter moments too. With times lifestyle, infrastructure of the society and more over behavior and outlook have changed, I try to showcase that change- either good or bad or say, two sides of the same coin.
Q: Why do you vote for blog for displaying you work?
TP: These are the fastest mediums of communication. Social networking sites give me large exposure to art lovers and art buyers all over the world. Analysis done by people in the form of comments and reviews inspire me. I do not have limitation of displaying my work. I can upload any and every kind of work that I want world to see. I have nearly twelve blogs and all my creations are online 24x364days, more then twenty thousand viewer view my blog till. I am at my leisure without adherence to anyone’s terms and conditions. Gallery is good for exhibition to see live work and face to face interact with me,  blogging is good exercise before  do best show in gallery, so are these social networking sites with their pros and cons, at least at present and the world is changeing as one global village may be trums  of good or bad.
I have my 3 series in limelight for present, they are: Indian Dhobi Ghat, Chip hanger body, India's Koodafication on Moon. These digitals going to Milan, Cuneo, Dhaka and Kolkata gallery. Future is predictable. But surely I will stick to my passion of painting and my visual art. As I like progressive things I might adopt new technology while working on Digital. I like to flow with current to discover new paths and new destinations, I am planning do some work called Public Art near my studio at Bolinj  village on Rajawadi sea-side beach… be there

As told to Pankaja JK, Freelance Art writer.14/8/2012


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Thanks for comment JK