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

Review on Bharti Tike recent art works

These paintings are close to my heart since they speak to me, they speak about me and sometimes for me.

I remember my childhood since the age of five when I had started being more social, knew the difference between home and social circuits like school, garden and other premises where I would see lot of children of my age. At that tender age too I could find myself being distinct from other children. I was always very shy and introvert. The distinction due to deformity became clearer as I grew up. Whether knowingly or unknowingly I tried to compensate my longing and loneliness by painting. I sat for hours at one place and drew everything that stimulated me. By the time I was also attending my primary school.
As I studied in vernacular medium I became familiar with the Devnagri letters and to my own astonishment I started finding the human figures in that letters. Letter 'ha' in Devnagri seemed to be a womanly figure to me or for that matter letter 'la' (second) depicted a male turban or such kind for me. So as I studied letters, along with I studied drawing too.

( Recent work by Bharti Tike)

I have grown up in the suburbs of Mumbai. Then it was not so crowded and the place was a blend of modernism and nature. This greatly influenced my work, the wonderment and nature of Mumbai found place in my drawings.

The thought of choosing a career did strike me after completing my schooling. Till then I had never given it a serious thought. Painting was just a hobby and means to escape in this maze of world. But I had the zeal to learn new concepts, drawing and techniques. I was apprehensive about my future, till I got the information about existence of Art College in the heart of city- Sir. J.J.School of Art. I secured the admission and started my formal education in drawing in the year 1986-'87 and completed my M.F.A in the year 1993. As it always happens even my batch was full of students who were confused about academic studies and contemporary art. But thanks to my sense of grasping that I started working in various mediums such as oil on canvas, pastels, water color, and charcoal and so on. My work was then more concentrated on self- portrait. I expressed my every hidden feeling and emotions through these portraits. This self expression gained me accolades and awards. Though happy I was still not contended with my work as I felt that I had not found the right medium through which I could express myself more clearly.

After my graduation I ultimately found my medium and that was Black Pen. I did lot of work using the black pen. I felt the work in black pen, the character that was expressed in every figure was expressed very meticulously. So charcoal and pen became my mighty tools. Like when I drew the resting vendor having a nap in his huge basket in “Relaxing soul”,. I have subtle expression of tired being, the face is not highlighted but the surrounding and the posture suggests the state of being. Another drawing that is expressed in such a way is “Caressed innocence” where the innocence and dependence of a child is felt through the hands that hold him. The tender child is shown resting carefree in sturdy and confident hands. As I drew with charcoal and pen, I literally started feeling that the characters in my drawings spoke to me. The drawings became more expressive without highlighting on facial features. Overall figure started gaining importance. The black shade against white tones portrayed more truth and posed a challenge that color did not. Thus, pen and charcoal proved effective to my expressions and broadened the avenues of being perfect. This medium has truly taken me to greater level of intimacy and expressions.

Currently I am working on the new series which is the amalgamation of digital at with watercolor. It is a series in mix media. Though the series concentrates on portraits, I have introduced the effect of background on the facial expressions and gesture of each figure. The series is like a volume of book studying the human feelings and life experiences, their psyche that is influenced by the circumstances that they have lived throughout their life. There is pain, anger, longing, apprehension, mystery, tranquility, care and love. The series touches upon every human emotional aspect that one could think of. Like in
“Can Rule the world”, depicts the confidence of the women in her late 60s. Her little raised head shows her will to win and her surety to excel in whatever she challenges to the world. The painting is also ideal to showcase the power of woman. In that case the very poignant painting is that of Mother Teresa in “Mother of Depressed” where love and care for downtrodden is not just a fable associated with the work of Mother Teresa but she was the ultimate Messiah for the poor and downtrodden men, women and children who showered them with love, caresses them as own mother and sheltered in her own lap. The praying figures of nuns dressed like mother Teresa in “Conveying cries of unheard”, show nuns' heart felt prayer to Lord Jesus to eradicate poverty, hunger and sadness from the world and make the world a beautiful place to live in and conveying this pitiful request on behalf of helpless.

The highlights of these paintings are the fine lines drawn at one go to make them powerful and grasp all the inner feelings of the character. I prefer to complete my art work in one sitting as I feel the thoughts pour in my mind and I am able to put them on canvas or paper without cuts and breaks. So in a way I can say that I float through that emotional river which either has happy or sad stream at that particular moment of painting. I can sit for hours together and sometimes at stretch throughout the day or night. But once the image is complete I feel great satisfaction and I feel as if I have written something in my personal diary which I could gave never been able to express to anyone in words. These paintings are close to my heart since they speak to me, they speak about me and sometimes for me. My introvert nature truly gets a means to express my emotions and feelings.

Bharti Tike spoken with Pankaja J K - Freelancer art writer

Negative is nothing but hidden pool of positive possessions … Prashant Hirlekar's recent art works

It is intriguing and thought capturing series by Prashant Hirlekar. The everyday useful household commodity ‘Iron’ becomes a remarkable metaphor in this series. He addresses it in Hindi language and calls it ‘Istri’; it is explored physically and characteristically. He tries to exterminate misconceptions, blind beliefs and pseudo psyche.

‘Istri’ is basically used for purpose of ironing; it stores negative energy –heat. This negative energy itself is used for good outcome of flattening the creases on the clothes to make them more attractive and presentable. This working of Istri has magnetized the artist and he finds its association in our surroundings.  He has deeply studied nature and found that goodness of nature has its existence due to presence of negativity. This negativity surrounding us, leads to positive outcome or its presence is unavoidable if one wants to experience goodness in the universe. In fact, not a single being is devoid of this negative energy which plays an important role in boosting positive spirit in us. Doesn’t hate make us sensitive towards love? Isn’t the fear of death which is a future, make us live the moments today? These complexities and much more is presented in the series.  

(Recent work by  Prashant Hirlekar)
Hirlekar precisely points out goodness out of bad, positive out of negative all through the series. Generally, people and for that matter even artist look at the happy and attractive side of the elements and artist paints them on canvas to make a good impression. There is deliberate attempt in the society to ignore or avoid negativity as it is considered bad. There are superstitious beliefs associated with many things in nature. Some of the superstitious beliefs like considering black colour as inauspicious and representative of bad omen or crow being considered ugly and useless, these same things bring twist in life when they gain priority and importance by the same society which discards them very often. Black colour may be inauspicious for people but for artists it has proved to be useful colour to make impressions, even in nature clouds are dark bringing the rains, dark nights bring along sound sleep, black hair sign of beauty so on and so forth. In the Hindu ritual a crow is sought after, to know whether souls of forefathers are satisfied and are at peace.

In one of the paintings where the canvas is ironed and properly hanged on the hanger clearly indicates that even if canvas is the base of painting; it is of little use if creased and wrinkled; it has to be flattened before painting on it. So, if canvas stands for positive result of good painting, it needs negative energy (heat) of Istri to form plain and unwrinkled base for painting. This applies to human appearance in society as well; i.e. even if you are a disturbed person you can present yourself composed and balanced in that well ironed clothes and that is exactly what an iron does using negative energy of heat to present positive side of you.  

Basically it is the negativity that nurtures positivism and the ideas and concepts develop according to their intensity. Too much of comfort and luxury is a sign of hampered mental growth, therefore some amount of failure, void and dejection is necessary to keep our central nervous system active and rouse our adrenalin rush. It stimulates brain and makes it more active to think of the ways to achieve the unaccomplished aims. This is subtly projected in the image where iron moves upwards and gets divided into two parts. It seems as if the path is a backbone which moves up and Iron at the end of it gets divided into two parts of the brain; where every experience is processed and body is commanded to act upon it.

Just like too much of goodness, even too much of negativity is also dangerous, in some cases leading only to destruction and that can be on individual level or society at large. This idea is clearly indicated on his canvas and also through the installation where the hot iron sole if pressed on one spot for longer period that part of the cloth gets charred and destroyed completely. Here it may also be suggestive of suicidal thoughts and actions due to pressures or on the larger scale it can be also indicative of historical episode during Hitler’s reign when Jews were inhumanly charred to death and in recent context it can also be indicative of corruption, poverty and deadly terrorism which is affecting lives of people all over the world. To eradicate these grave problems, controlling the rising negativity is important to keep the situation under control. So, negative energy is good as far as it is in control and directed towards positive result.

This series is not partial to any extremes of positive or negative; it aptly presents the two characteristics in balance which makes living complete. But more credence is on viewing Negative in good terms and accepting the fact that it is not always bad, but it stores positive energy. To put in other words, in context of Istri- hot or burning iron is a potential energy which becomes kinetic as soon as it is applied on the desired base or cloth. But one has to be careful while moving it smoothly with variation in pressure according to kind of cloth and wrinkles on it. Silk and cotton are two different fabrics requiring different temperatures and pressure and just like that the negative things in surrounding can be used actively in changing social and personal outlook by applying proper wisdom.

Apart from presenting the characteristic and the use of Istri, Hirlekar is also fascinated by its shape. The broader end that join together at arched point on the other end is unification that straightens the most wrinkled corner of the cloth and in reality too giving finer shape to thoughts can also eradicate the most difficult problems, thus making a remorse a rejoice. If it doesn’t offend Hirlekar or ruffle chauvinism in him, on personal level I also find similarity between the physical make and characteristic of Iron and Woman. Woman is said to be the reason either for civilization or destruction of society and is just like Prashant’s Istri, burning with desire of progress of her family and herself. If her goal oriented fire within is directed in right direction and moved smoothly, it can straightened ruffled feathers of society and lead to proper reward.

To sum up, the series appeals the psyche due to its subject matter and visual impulse through amalgamation of shades of red and orange with blue, which are again contradicting; red arousing heat and blue subduing it by its nature of calmness.  

- Pankaja JK

Review on Tathi Premchand recent art works

Tathi Premchand’s paintings have variations of thoughts and sensibilities. Right from mythological adaption to modernistic sensibility every aspect is cleverly covered in his paintings. The focal point is that it varies from somber to humorous level keeping the undercurrent of thoughtfulness flowing in whichever ways the ideas surge. Analyzing all his paintings would be interesting but quiet exhaustive. The depth and variation can be seen in his series of sketches where we come across current affairs from all walks of life from spiritual to political.

A sketch of a loaf of bread and a brick, with God’s name written on it is a direct indication that though both play equally important role in life of a devout, it is that bread that matters above everything. Hunger defeats every other grapevine, because bread for hunger is involuntary demand and brick for monuments is voluntary choice.

Right from painting the queries of Ananda, the disciple of The Buddha and solution by Lord Buddha to directly and subtly portraying Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his message, the artist also has directly projected in his paintings that even in modern day non- violence and peaceful endeavors are the strongest weapons to win the world. No other practical aspect has been effective to make an impression on world and therefore world’s strongest leaders have implemented theme in their principles, so we find face of Obama on the body of Gandhi. If meticulously observed, Tathi prefers writing full name Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi instead of just ‘Gandhi; in this his motive is blurred.

Does he want to insist upon Indian or Asian idol followed all over the world or does it simply seems impressive to Tathi to address Gandhiji by his full name. Whatever the reason saying full name does make a profound impact.
According to Tathi Premchand he likes his paintings to speak for themselves when he says that “Painting should maintain its identity in such a way that on the instant of seeing it, one should be able to understand its intensity. For me it’s an achievement if my painting speaks; be wordless expression of thoughts! “He does complete justice in creations.
Tathi Premchand is very judgmental in his approach. He compares the modern approach on commercializing art and traditional approach of art for sake of art.
He has the skill to capture both in same frame and prove the difference. In one of his unique photograph, he has captured two artists of different generations, one new and other old master. The young artist is busy interacting with media and speaks about his work and skills. Whereas the old-master is composed and proves his skill by painting on canvas in presence of media, who generally wants artist to analyze his own work. Old master does not analyze his craft verbally, but proves it literally. His painting speaks for his art and skill.

Most of the modern inventions do offer comfort and pleasure to people who are desperate to seek them, but if we think and realize the so- called modern luxury, we will find more ill-effects than goodness. Tathi has shown it through his photographic art called, johny johny yes papa.. heaving sex no papa..telling lies yes papa‘Plastic love’ where a young boy happily chews a chewing- gum. The expression of delight on his face makes one feel happy too, but the chemicals that he consumes through this luring sweet is nothing but a danger to his life.

Tathi has come a long way in his creation of artworks. His horizons have expanded drastically. Along with the skill on canvas, he now portrays the feelings by experimenting photography, installations and merging of mediums of expressions. speaks in sarcastic, humorous and satirical manner. It speaks people’s mind. The work not only appeals the thought but evokes reaction in mind of an observer. The name ‘Open Heart for Earthworm’ itself suggests sarcasm.

Open Heart for Earthworm is about the modern, technological progress and ignorance of nature. Superficial living has gained much prominence. The simple proof is the cement jungle which is inhibiting the most helpful creature, earthworms from its existence on the ground. Aren’t we improving our life- style by doing injustice with other mute creatures in nature?? Such thoughts do stimulate our mind, but without any positive outcome. We just think; think like an ass! ‘Ass’ in the series represents common man, who always looks deeply engrossed in thoughts such is the mental and physical condition of people; who act as guided by political, social and communal guidance. Anyone hardly tries to be different.

In this series he concentrates on the dynamic influence of politics in every field and the misuse of political power at the same time by people in power. It is ironic that people see, hear and follow the power which can prove to be destructive to them, but they have no choice to reject and discard this system as there is no option of perfection for the system revival. People are reduced to ass where in they seem to ponder on issues but cannot react but wait, watch and move towards doom. Modernization has sucked the blood of mother earth and given us a temporary life which seems beautiful. The danger of global warming has come up and griping us rapidly. Use of modern equipments and development of cement forest is cutting down nature cruelly. Still we prefer it….because, according to Tathi “…we are addicted to the modern ways of luxury and comfort at the cost of natural gifts and reducing the number of years of our own life.”
Dhobi- Ghat is metaphorical in nature which represents the washing clothes and sarcastically raises the question of cleansing the soul. It is the famous dhobhi ghat or open laundry near Mahalakshmi station, Mumbai.

The images of hardworking men, white clothes, colorful clothes, tied bundles and so have their meaning associated with life of every individual. A Dhobi- washer man washes every kind of soiled clothes and is contended with his profession. But the question is even if a person wears clean clothes, does his soul too gets a timely wash? Here the target is towards the mass which has superficial simple living, but act shrewd and cunning when it comes to the misuse of power for personal benefits. As Kabir’s say, “Kapdon ka mail toh dhobi saaf kare, manka mail kaun kare?” is frequently experienced in these artworks. The omnipresent effect given to these paintings by repeating the images in four directions suggest universal behavior, that is not restricted to any particular community or country.

- Pankaja JK