Wednesday 26 March 2014

In the Shadow of the Anti-Nimbus- Ranjit Hoskote

(Rahul Vajale recent working in camp: 2013 )

At a time when many young painters are tempted to adopt one or another of the prevailing house styles of contemporary Indian art, Rahul Vajale pursues a refreshingly idiosyncratic agenda. His imagery is not influenced by the media. His work does not suffer from the semiotic clutter that afflicts any number of young artists, testimony to their misguided attempts at scanning and grabbing the hard-won sophistications of Parthan, Dodiya, Nair, Kallat and Natesan. Nor does Vajale try and win on mere scale, stretching paint and losing detail in the effort to cover the distance from one edge of a vast canvas to the other. And, most fortunately, he remains untouched by that XL enthusiasm for civil-society initiatives of social awareness which, in the absence of true radicalisation, serves numerous young artists as a feeble politics.

Instead, Vajale’s charcoal drawings on paper and acrylic paintings on canvas are marked by an attractive crispness of handling and clarity of image. His drawings insist, in their dramatic precision, that we follow the charcoal on its image-making journey around a head, rising up against the whiteness of the paper in jags, flows and curlicues: the line folds itself around the psychic history of a personality, real or imagined, and contours its representation accordingly.
(Mahatma Gandhi, Acrylic on Charcoal on canvas Size: 36x36", 2006 :by Rahul Vajale )

His paintings demand full-bodied engagement too. Look carefully at the animal baying at the moon: a chimera, part bull, part wolf, it has an intertwining serpent pattern painted on its flank. As it challenges the moon, its horns form a glowing, defiant crescent by themselves. Or is the wolf holding the moon in its jaws? Is the moon a waxy, golden chapati? Look, also, at the portrait of Van Gogh suspended in a field of colour with a prickly plant for company: yes, the genius of the tattered ear is now a cliché of artistic suffering, but gaze upon his serenity here, his anguish transferred, in the manner of the Rajput miniatures, to the symbol that accompanies him like a plaintive stringed instrument to the raga of his silence.

The energy that Vajale invests in evoking his figures is matched by the detailing he lavishes on the seemingly empty areas of field. His figures carry their histories with them, histories that are bred in the bone; and the fields they occupy are integral to their identity, tuning up a sense of loss, amplifying the melancholia of the long-distance dreamer. Consider, in this context, the man-rock-tree composites that fly past one another, at a distance, in the slow motion mandated by a zero-gravity space: there is more than a hint of Hanuman here, as he flies back to the battlefield of Lanka bearing the precious herb-scented mountain of Gandhamadhana; there is also more than a hint of the isolatos that we all are, carrying the hope of healing even as we pass each other by, as we travel through the large vacancies of hurt. While Vajale’s fictions captivate our imagination, his formal handling urges us to attend, again, to those seemingly lost properties: the cunning stroke of the brush and the delicious richness of vermilion, acid yellow, nocturnal black and forest green.
(Golden Hauman , Acrylic on Charcoal on canvas Size: 48x72", 2006 :by Rahul Vajale )

Indeed, the phrase ‘lost properties’ could act as our guide into the circuitry of Vajale’s imagination: in his vivid evocation of colour states and prickly symbols, he reclaims much that the senses have abandoned, that the intellect has grown to disregard. His paintings and drawings are generated around symbolic forms, but this should not suggest an aloof, abstract idiom. Vajale’s universe is elaborated, not from the standard dimensions that determine space, but from such unpredictable measures of sensual experience as dryness and sheen, volatility and weight, sharpness and ductility.
There is nothing withdrawn about his works: they are charged with an entire vocabulary of sensations. We feel, in his surfaces, the immediacy of clay, fire, maize, night, stubble, thorn and bone. We feel, in a word, visceral excitement in the use to which Vajale puts the inherited resources of the painter’s craft.

(Untitted, Acrylic on Charcoal on canvas Size: 48x72", 2006 :by Rahul Vajale )

Visceral excitement is exactly what Vajale feels in the presence of the human face. The faces of people he might see in the street or meet in paintings in museums return to haunt him; they urge him to memorialise them as portraits. But Vajale’s portraits are not transcriptions of retinal testimony; rather, they record the stylised aftermath of visual encounter. They capture some essential characteristic of the person receiving the artist’s attention, and translate these into a pictorial language that startlingly melds eulogy with caricature. Vajale recognises, and is ready to struggle with, the formal problems attendant on this choice of quasi-portraiture. Since his practice impels him to abstract the visual stimulus of a particular face from its lifeworld and translate it into a metaphorical proposition, the artist must manage a delicate balance between the distinctive and the generic.

Vajale develops his paintings and drawings from a secret archive: the ceaseless flow of doodles and ruminations that he makes in the sequence of notebooks that he has maintained over the years. This ongoing journal is a barometer of his works and days: in it, he records fluctuations of mood and speculations on fate; writes of chance happenings and dwells on the pressures and dilemmas of everyday life; sings of sleepless nights and happy meetings; stumbles on the patterns that occasionally reveal themselves from beneath the random movements of the mind.

Vajale’s gallery of heads, shaped in charcoal, follows the curve of this journal. His heads testify to the range of expressive possibilities inherent in the features of men and women: he treats the head frontally and in profile, now suggesting an imperial disdain, now a sage-like meditativeness; now a demotic handling, now a hieratic touch. By turns, the head is tonsured and cloud-haired, gorgonic and monk-like. What unites Vajale’s heads is the curlicued pattern that emanates from within them, curling out of the mouth or falling across the face, propping them up in lieu of a neck or swelling out like a luxuriant beard.

What is this signature device: an axis of flame; a spine; a necklace? On Vajale’s account, it is the mortal equivalent of the aura that is said to surround beings of high spiritual attainment: it is a versatile energy that could stand for virility or rage, focused attention or indwelling negativity. This anti-nimbus, this counter-halo is an integral feature of the emotional costume in which the artist clothes his unwitting sitters. It is, in fact, a symbolic reminder of our common humanity, hostages as we are to the passions, subject to a fate that we write for ourselves in the journal of our neurons, enzymes and hormones. 

-  Ranjit Hoskote

Paintings & Drawings by Rahul Vajale (Mumbai: September 2006)

‘I show the invisible in my works’- Vinita Dasgupta

Delhi-based artist Vinita Dasgupta on self-imagery, spirituality and sold-out shows

Among the works that sold out at the India Art Fair (IAF), the country’s largest exhibition-cum-sale of art held annually in Delhi, was an eccentric series with portraits of Marilyn Monroe, an unknown Indian boy, and the artist herself painted on layers of cigarettes. “Step closer, there’s something more beneath the obvious,” says Vinita Dasgupta, 30. On a second look, the “cigarettes” turn out to be canvas strips rolled into hollow pipes of various sizes. They are pasted together to create an undulating surface, giving Dasgupta’s paintings a three-dimensional appearance.
( Vinita Dasgupta's works at Indian Art Fair 2014- New Delhi)

Dasgupta has been selling out since she was a student at College of Art, New Delhi, in the early 2000s and the red dots at IAF have only sealed her place among the promising names of her generation. Relaxing in her studio, she looks less arty and more airy. No intellectual handlooms or ethnic jewellery; instead, she is a Delhi girl with straightened and streaked hair, a nose ring and four tattoos.

“I like to show the invisible in my works,” says Dasgupta. Each roll of canvas, she points out, contains icons or scenes from mythology — Rama and Krishna, Radha and the gopis — and Sanskrit shlokas, so that a painting is made up of many other rolled-up miniatures. “I was looking for a new style when a friend gifted me earrings made from bits of Coke cans twisted together,” she says.

Into this pop inspiration, Dasgupta fused images from Indian spirituality. “I am a seeker of spiritual truths. I travel to Dharamsala and Varanasi regularly to meditate. And I travel alone,” she says. Even the tattoo on her thumb has spiritual significance. “It’s the female moon sign in Chinese and is shaped like an Om,” she says.

As a child — when her first name was still Dipannita, which she changed in school without telling her parents — Dasgupta learnt Kathak, classical music, cooking and painting, participated in almost every activity in school and won lots of prizes, had friends but also spent a lot of time by herself. Consequently, her artwork looks inwards. Almost every series Dasgupta has produced since she turned professional in 2008 include reflections of herself.

Of these, My Window Shut to Open (2010) comprise acrylics, digital and mixed media juxtaposing a world as of candy coloured consumerism — through motifs such as lipsticks, multiple telephones, stilettos, shorts and sleeveless tops — with symbols such as the Taj Mahal (“my ode to builders who build great cities but go unnoticed”) and traffic signals (“It is only at red lights that we get a chance to look at people who live on the streets”). “When I was working on this series, I was always deep in thought. I would watch TV and talk to people, but when that external conversation stopped, the inner conversation would begin,” she explains.

( Vinita Dasgupta's works at Indian Art Fair 2014- New Delhi)

Dasgupta was among the toppers in the entrance exam at College of Art and she proceeded to spend her four undergraduate years metaphorically coloring outside the lines. “I would sit in the postgraduate class 
and hang out with seniors. I was constantly learning from those above me,” she says. Professors began to teach the new students on smaller canvases but Dasgupta regularly turned in large-scale works with strong, almost masculine, brush strokes. She also holds the distinction of winning the Women’s Athlete award four years in a row.Dasgupta’s first solo, in 2009, was titled “Fashion and Attitude: Womanhood under Scanner”. Befitting a post-liberalisation youngster, she tackled a different kind of existentialism from those of an earlier generation of artists. One of her works revolved around wardrobe malfunctions, with a traffic signal of the left glowing red. In another, Dasgupta contrasts the sashay of a model to the steady steps of women labourers carrying construction material on their heads. The exhibition sold out, which still surprises Dasgupta. “Maybe the buyers shared my vision,” she says. 

Since then, she has held four more solos as well as 200 group shows in India and internationally, with Delhi-based Art Konsult representing her since 2009. This year’s IAF was the first time that Galleria Art Lounge from Lisbon displayed her works, with successful results. The gallery has planned a solo of her works in Lisbon this autumn.

(Report courtesy Written by Dipanita Nath )| March 16, 2014 11:38 pm  ( Indian express)

Thursday 20 March 2014

Not to be Missed : 22nd March 2014 at Art Gate Gallery

A show of recent paintings by Kumar Vaidya on 22 to 29 march 2014.
11AM to 7PM (Open on Sunday)
Preview on 21st March 2014. 5PM to 9PM
At art gate gallery above Satyam collection, next to Eros Cinema, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Showcasing Indian art scene for the world...J.J Today & Tomorrow

In the last few decades, one has seen a reasonable growth in the contemporary art scene of India.

And in order to spread the awareness of Indian art and artists around the world, The Art Affaire, a platform for artists and art lovers alike, is hosting paintings by the ex-students and teachers of Sir JJ School of Art. A group show titled 'J.J Today & Tomorrow', the exhibit includes the work of 40 artists like Mangesh Kapse, Manohar Rathod, Abid Shaikh, Parag Kashinath Tandel, Javed Mulani, Vijay Bondar, Javed Mulani, Manohar Rathod, Abhid Sheikh, Raman Adone and others, alongside faculties from JJ School of Art like Anant Nikam, Douglas John, Dr Manisha Patil, Prakash Sonavane, Rajendra Patil, Vijay Sakpal, Vishwanath Sabde (Dean) and more.

The JJ School of Art too, has a tradition of excellent painters and art teachers like M V Dhurandhar, Jagannath Ahivasi, Y K Shukla, S B Palsikar, Baburao Sadwlekar, PM Kolte and so on, who through their relentless efforts have played mentors to numerous talented artists over the years.

This art show will give aspiring artists an opportunity to show their talent.

(The exhibit is on from February 24 to March 2 from 11 am to 7 pm at the Art Gate Gallery, Satyam Collection, Opposite Churchgate station)
(above painting by Raman Adone )

Tuesday 18 March 2014

After 20 years, Kumar Vaidya is all set to comeback with the most anticipated show... ‘SUKSHM’

When you think of an artist, names like Friedrich Schiller, Rembrandt etc pops up. Eccentric, unconventional and abstract in their being, they didn’t follow the typical norms of society, following their instinct and desires, they went through life as if it was a canvas, where the only acceptable formula was to use colours, textures and designs that fulfilled their sense of being, in a way that made absolute sense or sometimes, no sense at all.
(Kumar Vaidya)

Kumar is one of such person. As eccentric as any artist, what sets him apart is this beautiful disposition he has towards life and the meaning it holds. An eternal soul with the exuberance of a boy, caught in the daily humdrum of life, he is a story within a story. Walking on the road less travelled, he does what he knows best, and that is to just go with the flow of life, wherever it takes him, in whichever way it takes him.

Breaking traditional norms of being an artist, Kumar Vaidya’s life is as colourful and dark as his artwork. Having seen it all in the past 20 years, one thing that never changed was his undying passion towards feeding his artistic flair in whichever way possible, to learn rather than acquire.

A true artist doesn’t restrict his emotions and thoughts to one channel of outlet, instead they let it flow out through any medium possible, be it music, art or a philosophical take on life. When they talk, they are consumed with this sense of passion about everything and listening to them, your mind can’t help but wander off to the beautiful unexplored dimensions that only a true artist can open.

Such is the persona of Mr. Kumar, unassuming in nature, prolific in thoughts & alternative in personality, his work breaks all benchmarks that restrict human emotions. He is an artist who is completely in tuned with his innermost emotions, which are free flowing and does not limit itself to one form of style.

What sets his work apart is that it gives his viewers a sense of freedom to interpret his work in whichever way they want to.  Not wanting to restrict a persons thought and emotions, his work takes you on a journey of your choice. Open to exposition, his work challenges you to think outside the box, to not restrain your emotions, taking your thoughts on a path that has been unexplored, where meanings and preconceived notions no longer exist, a new territory of unimaginable depths and heights, where no two people will express the same emotions while they are lost in finding the meaning in his art. And when they realise, that the only meaning to bring out of his art is to free one’s mind and let it take its own journey, like Mr. Kumar did, is when the real meaning of his work hits home. 
(Untitled : 10.5x10.5" water color on paper)

Bio-Profile: Kumar Vaidya:

Kumar Vaidya is an Indian artist known for his contribution to the cutting-edge yet comprehensive Indian artwork. Born on 5th August 1964 at Kapadwanj, Gujarat, his first artistic endeavour began with his degree in Bachelor of Fine Art from Sir J J School of Art Mumbai. His drive for more rigorous and traditional training led him to Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris – FRANCE on French Government scholarship, 1993.

Kumar Vaidya, known for his avant-garde yet revolutionary artwork, successfully positioned himself in the Indian art domain with his first solo exhibition in Mumbai, Madras and Delhi in 1992.
Constantly reinventing himself while retaining his artistic DNA, Kumar Vaidya, especially known for his sense of style which leans towards layers and straight lines, gives his paintings a mystical eminence and high level of quality and perfection. 

Well renowned for his artistic disposition all over, most of Kumar Vaidya’s paintings are in a private collection in France. His alluring art work has also been showcased as a part of Sadruddin Daya's art collection. Mr Vaidya’s artistic talents have been recognized by known names like Rajiv Sethi, who commissioned him to paint one of his rooms at the landmark Shah House in Juhu’s Janki Kutir, owned by Czaie and Suketu Shah (MD Mukund Iron and Steel).

His achievements also include painting four of large size paintings for Kohinoor Bungalow of ex Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri. Manohar Joshi. Furthermore, he went on to paint a large (45 ft X 9 ft) painting on the wall for Vipul Doshi at his Churchgate office.

Artist Kumar Vaidya’s work stands apart and takes your mind on an experimental and innovative journey, breaking the conventional norms and showcasing depth through his talented art strokes.

After 20 years, Kumar Vaidya is all set to comeback with the most anticipated show, ‘SUKSHM’ that will display his extraordinary piece of art to all the art lovers. The exhibition will be from 22nd March -29th March at an art gate gallery above Satyam collection, next to Eros Cinema, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020.

(Report courtesy Atul Unadkat,)

Saturday 15 March 2014

SURVIVOR'S STORY: Rising from the ashes - Avinash Godbole

Avinash Godbole knows the pain of being land locked when your heart dreams of flight. That is why he chose the metaphor to express his life after stroke in his paintings. His life changed 11 years ago; Godbole was the creative art director in an ad agency. One day while climbing the stairs of his home he felt his right leg going numb. He ignored the pain and called his family homoeopath in Pune, who prescribed a few drugs. He thought the sensation would ease like the last episode three months earlier. The numbness, however, worsened. “We kept telling him he needed to see a doctor, but he refused,” says his wife Ratan, an artist. “He had more faith in homoeopathy.” 

 (Avinash Godbole working in studio / Photo by Amey Mansabdar)

Finally, it was another homoeopath who saw him at home, who convinced him to see a doctor immediately. By then, it was already three days since his stroke. “We rushed to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, and doctors confirmed that is was a stroke. But they said they could not undo the damage done, only prevent further damage,” says Godbole. It seemed Godbole suffered from an ischemic stroke, but since he didn't reach the hospital in the four-and-a-half hour window period, doctors could not conduct any procedure on him.
He stayed in the hospital for 10 days, four of them in the intensive care unit. Godbole had graduated from J.J. School of Art and was an illustrator for a newspaper while working in the ad agency. He knew his life had changed when his right hand could not hold a pencil after a few days in the hospital.
For days after discharge, Godbole was prescribed physiotherapy yet there was little improvement, his right leg limped while his right hand remained lifeless. The doctors told him that all the progress that is to happen, would come in the first six months and Godbole was desperate for a miracle. “I tried everything¯ayurveda, homoeopathy, Kerala massage, Christian healing, folk remedies everything,” he recalls. “We even tried putting the blood of pigeon on the right hand; it is said to be warm and improves circulation,” says Ratan. His miracle did not come. Meanwhile Godbole went back to work a month after the stroke. Not being able to use his right hand was frustrating. “That's when we told him to start doing things with his left hand,” says Ratan. “Dr Shirish Hastak, his neurologist, kept telling us that stroke is not the end of the world,” says Ratan. “He told Avinash to do what he loves¯start painting again.”
( Avinash Godbole recent painting )

Godbole picked his pencil again, this time with his left hand. It was a slow start. It was like learning to paint all over again. He realised that his brain was still intact: it had ideas, creativity, a vision about beauty. It took three years to train his left arm to bring that vision to reality.

He started painting full time after he retired as an executive creative director. Three years ago, he came up with a series of 25 paintings describing his tryst with stroke. “I wanted to create awareness about stroke. I do not want someone to go through what I did,” says Godbole. His paintings articulate the regret of losing out on time due to stubbornness, his experiences with different alternative therapies and accepting that one side of his body may not be functional again.
While stroke has changed his life, his family has helped him achieve his dreams. His wife accompanies him when he needs to travel and his driver helps him with household chores. Godbole has his routine set now. He paints six to eight hours a day and has made about 500 paintings after stroke. “Everyone says my paintings are better than they used to be,” he says.

“For two years after his stroke, we were not clear about what it really was,” says Ratan, “We didn't fully understand that it is the brain that is affected and not the hand.” Godbole is an active member of the stroke support group in Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Rotary Club's initiatives on stroke.

He was also invited to exhibit his paintings at the World Stroke Association's conference in Brazil last year. Hope is the message he wishes to convey to stroke patients and their families. “Our brain is a wonderful thing, there are things we haven't tapped in our brain. In spite of the stroke, you can do what you love to do, become a poet or a writer.” Ratan, on the other hand, wants the caregivers to make the stroke patient independent. “When the stroke patient says he can't, encourage him to try," she says.

Report courtesy Published in The Week ( Health cover story)March 3, 2014 18:51 hrs IST