Sunday 8 October 2017

‘Men hanging in local train like a dead meat’

Travelling back in the 17th century, where  Baroque painters as Rembrandt, Frans HalsDiego Velázquez used skillfully and minutely worked impastos to depict lined and wrinkled skin or the sparkle of elaborately crafted armor, jewelry, and rich fabrics. Vincent van Gogha 19th-century painter made notable use of impastos, building up and defining the forms in his paintings with thick, nervous dabs of paint. Painters of Twentieth century like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning often applied impastos with a dynamism and a gestural bravura that emphasized the physical qualities of the paint itself. Since then Raj More has expressed this style for last fifteen years working in Mumbai Kandivali with an approach of contemporary thoughts and chunky content.  The colors applied thickly to a canvas have become a staple technique of modern abstract and semi figurativein his work.
As viewers of art, we naturally focus on the finished product, the end result of the artist's labor. But some painting techniques draw our attention to the artist's process and make us think about how the paint was applied to the canvas. Impasto is one of these techniques. By applying paint to the canvas as thickly as possible, keeping the original brush marks visible, painters can create dramatic visual effects while also reminding us of the passion and the skill that went into the act of creation. In the artist work These paintings are mostly red, black, blue and yellow in color. They are all hot colors and highlight the sanguine nature of the city. The loaded strokes literally weigh the works and we could see the architectural features merging into a sort of abstraction in his works. These works could be called odes to the city of Mumbai. And each loaded stroke could also be seen as the building blocks of the same city. And if one tries to break it down to the constituent part of this city, one would reach a single slum cluster from which the city has metastasized into innumerable edifices and verities. 

In his studio, I came across huge paintings of a crow, the NYC bull, Rose etc. In the background, I observed thick strokes of various colors in a symphonic pattern. A closer look reveals that the color patches are nothing but the miniature version of the slum clusters that the artist sees everyday through the window of his studio. The artist fascination with crows is obvious “The Crow is a survivor and also a cleaner. Sometimes human beings are like crows; they clean the city and survive.” Says the artist.  Raj is greatly influenced with the slum clusters. “They are not his reality anymore. But they are there always as a reminder for him. At the other end of the studio I saw a freshly applied paint on canvas waiting to dry in these beautiful monsoons. The artist, also discussed about his personal life,where I saw resemblance with Johnny Lever and James Brown. The artist has old memories of Bollywood posters in his studio and old classic tales to share which are seen in his paintings and narratives.
He captures the variations of Mumbai; its character and so his paintings have socio-political message and events that develop the personality of Mumbai, He brilliantly paints mostly by using knife as a tool and uses colors lavishly to present the intricacies of each element that he portrays in his work; be it train, taxi, crow or simply the ground. 
His recent work on his new upcoming solo shows in Mumbai,Delhi & Bangalore, a Ganpati carried by a lady in a short skirt and showing her sexy legs and the auto driver starring her juicy lips in the mirror. Having a discussion with the artist and expressing our views I came across multiple thoughts regarding this painting. It allows the viewerto expand the meaning of the work apart from the artist reason to paint and display. The artist welcomes new ideas and thoughts which makes his paintings free from square to square and circle to circle dialogues. One can link his or her imagination with or without any sense and make sense totally.
“Chor Making Shor” There is no script and nothing for dialoguethe artist portrays situation of our assumptions which fit in this picture and then we become aware of the painting.  As the artist sees people like crows and he relates life situation of exclusive people cleaning up their trails which has similarities in looking at the painting. Even at certain stage one may feel that there is nothing left to express but that’s the beauty of his works. Constant interaction between the viewer and painting reminds me of those visually aware fellows who look, minutely and express themselves in abstract thoughts in museums and galleries. The viewer comes across the works with an awareness and one can keep exploring levels of one’s imagination. History has always asked when do we involve the common elements of existence? But as I see, it is here in Raj More work with his skills and life experiences he has mastered the route of visual communication in a common existence. 
( Raj More in his studio Ready with New Paintings )
“Tandoor Express” is the artist best work, and it represents the reality of me and everyone who are part of the local trains. All our journeys have stories. These journey and stories, the artist has expressed a slaughter of the locals being congested in a train which runs on mysterious mind and conscious dialogues within. “The artist relates the situation of a butcher house with the local trains the men hanging like dead meat.” The technique used to express the relations and message of the commuters are unimaginable. Raj in the past had seen and unseen and strong relations of butchers and slaughters of animals somewhere near his studios in early days. Where his inspiration comes from. 

Traveling back home I thought about a painting named “Ambanikholi number 12”. Yes, the tittle says it all but when I start wondering I remember the famous tagline “karloduniyamutthimein”. The artist representing the visual structure of “Antillawith the symbol of a horse regal and fierce in competitions, running his heart out to beat his competitors” Similarly the artist compares with “Kholi No 12” which has no connection with the tagline but the competition to acquire a house in the race of a common man’s life. Much is not needed to explain as the painting visually explains the status vs facts and the expression and the reason of the artistic expression.
After good yesterday with Artist Raj More in his studio having seen his paintings and listening to his life experience of being a visual artist. I personally feel that He (Raj) has seen and painted life visually and minutely. One can totally connect and make sense of his style and expression considering the thick paint applied on the surface. But in the end, it is the expression of the painter which makes the painting live and real. 

Visiting back at the artist studio after 2 days he brings a new painting “Mera Bharath Mahan” although the intension of the artist is precise and cut to cut when it comes to Nation and Citizens. Symbolically the crow and the bull has no relevance. But visual characters play their unique part of pride and signature of Bharath Desh.  This painting makes me feel a unity and a world of muscular existence of which energy and wealth are generated. A position of weak and strong forces strongly present in the country’s borders.Soon the viewing will be displayed and viewers can enjoy the works.
The viewing will be soon as the artist will be displaying his solo show in Mumbai present by Chhaap Art Gallery.


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Thanks for comment JK