Friday 5 January 2024

Transient Landscape_Retrospective Show of veteran artist Late Yashwant Shirwadkar

When we first look at Yashwant Shriwadkar's painting, we are drawn to a vibrant, expansive canvas, that capture the fleeting light and ever-changing atmosphere in nature. The tactile strokes play with the viewer's senses, delivering an effect of spontaneity and effortlessness while masking carefully constructed compositions. Each time you look at his canvas, a new feature appears, as if purposefully hidden by the artist under the masterfully blended colors. Deep yellow flashed in the night, pastel blue fading into midday, and pink melting in the morning sky. 

Veteran artist Late Yashwant Shirwadkar   

Shirwadkar perceived our world quite differently. For him, the seemingly mundane sights became compelling experiences,as a cascading waterfall or a majestic mountain peak. He simply painted the things he saw and felt, surrendering to the experiences and situations of the moment. He had no interest in depicting history, mythology, or the lives of great individuals. Instead, he attempted to capture how a landscape or an object appeared to him at a particular instant. Varanasi held a special fascination for him, leading to more than 18 visits to the mystical city. The gentle waters of the Ganges, the boat rides, the morning worship at the Ghats, as well as the majestic architecture has been aptly arrested by the artist. His artistic journey also encompassed landscapes from Kerala, Rajasthan, Kashmir, and Goa, along with large commission canvases like Hyde Park and the Gateway of India. 

Painting - RAJASTHAN - 36 x 60 in

Shirwadkar's approach of using a palette knife and building up layers in oil-on-canvas aligns with the textural and vibrant qualities often associated with impressionistic art. It's a technique that can evoke a sense of movement and atmosphere in landscape paintings. Each layer was painted on top of the previous without waiting for the earlier layer to dry completely. Rather than worrying about the technical accuracy of the painting, he went with the flow of his mood and created a sense of movement in the work. Seeing him work on the colors with palette knife is a sight to behold, almost beyond words to describe. The colors seemed to merge one into another, slowly shifting: yellow to orange and then red, and at times blue slowly turned into green and vice versa. 

Color and light played a profound role in Shriwadkar's painting process. Before painting on the canvas, he made several sketches on site, in the open, using sunlight as the only source of light. By using low chroma variations and rendering shadows in color, the artist skillfully captured the fleeting nuances of natural light.He also tried to emphasize the passage of time in his works. The paint was left unmixed, producing a contrast between strokes that didn’t blend completely on the canvas but appeared so to the eye. The deliberate choice to forgo intricate details in favor of bold paint strokes added to the overall impact of portraying the essence of the subject. 

Shirwadkar's oil-on-canvases garnered widespread acclaim, resonating not just with Indian audiences but captivating hearts globally. He received invitations to prestigious international platforms, such as sponsored exhibitions and notable events like the 42nd Anniversary Leadership Summit in Washington in 2017, showcasing the artist's recognition on a global scale. His path in visual art, however faced several obstacles, stemming from initial resistance within his family against pursuing a career in the fine arts. Undeterred by opposition, his passion for painting prevailed, leading him to stand firm on his decision despite strong familial objections. Eventually, Shirwadkarwent on to study at the renowned Sir J. J. School of Arts in Mumbai, marking a crucial step in his artistic journey. 

Painting- SEASCAPE - 36 x 60 in

Creating art was a form of Sadhana—a daily practice, for the artist. He painted regularly, shaping a distinctive style that involved the use of a palette knife and occasionally unconventional mediums such as a shaving blade. Even after achievingmastery over his technique, he continued to paint with awareness, discipline and intention of growth. Like a spiritual practitioner (sadhaka) heworked to achieve control over ego, connect deeper, and realign with his’s inner self. 

Spanning over 45 years, Shirwadkar’s prolific artistic career was marked by an impressive legacy of around 100 solo exhibitions and over 260 group shows both in India and internationally. Through this extensive body of work, he not only established a prosperous art career but also earned a prominent reputation in the art world before his passing in 2020.The enduring allure of his works, continue to generate curiosity and awe in the younger generations of artists as well as viewers. 

It is interesting to note that in his inaugural solo exhibition in 1977, Shirwadkar showcased watercolorseascapes. Employing a technique of blending watercolors to achieve a bleed and bloom effect, he crafted misty seascapes with soft, faded edges. Carefully playing with light contrast, he diluted and highlighted specific areas while leaving others dry, inviting light into the artwork. This technique skillfully evoked a vaporous atmosphere, adding a unique dimension to his early watercolors. 

Shirwadkar's approach to painting landscapes went beyond mere depictions of sites or anonymous figures. His focus delved into capturing the enveloping warmth and color of sunlight, not merely the physical surroundings. His art aimed to encapsulate the transformative impact of sunlight on the specific moments, highlighting the soul of the scene and its evolution through time and atmospheric changes.

Transient Landscape

-          By Shraddha Purnaye – Curator and Writer


From: 9th to 15th January 2024

Retrospective Show of veteran artist Late Yashwant Shirwadkar


Jehangir Art Gallery

Auditorium Hall

161-B, M.G. Road,

Kala Ghoda, Mumbai 400 001

Timing: 11am to 7pm

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Thanks for comment JK