Art and Patisserie

To see the artist give the final strokes, to see the chef curate artistic delicacies – two sights that have the power to satiate every soul. Ever been intrigued by reflections? Or Wooed by the finesse of sculptures? Wondered what’s under the mystical mist? Or just looked into infinity and dreamt of touching the horizon? Chef Anurag Barthwal, inspired by the artistry of my works curated the most sinful desserts in the most tasteful manner. Capturing the essence of the master themes from my art, the Leela presented four unique and aesthetically pleasing desserts, so do not hold back and let the ethereal magic delight you with these pictures!

Melange

Melange is an amalgamation of art and bespoke living. Art seeps into the flow of every design to create very niche pieces which turns into a canvas, embellished by inspiration. Each product has been crafted by bringing together vibrant strokes of my art with forms conceptualized by Amour’ Inde, a global brand in furniture and trade. The aim was to inspire a range in Asian aesthetics, to achieve furniture – each an individual masterpiece to satisfy the palette of the connoisseur.

The Ethereal in Real

My recent solo show ‘The Ethereal in Real’ at the Leela Ambience Gurugram Hotel & Residences in September’18 was inaugurated by Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi (Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development) and Mrs. Anjolie Ela Menon (India’s leading contemporary artist) which marked my milestone fortieth solo show spanning a journey of four decades. The show brought together a collection of the three most acclaimed series of my oeuvre – “Reflections”, “Seascapes” and “Horizons.” Additionally, some of my experiments with a different medium and with a more figurative form – “Alchemy” also formed part of the collection. It is my inner-self, which somewhere connects the very real to the very surreal. It is perhaps, that the projection of my composition is reflected in the methods of the world and nature around me. I have somewhere figured out the last strand, and the smallest atom, the “ether” that formulates my art, nature and works, which resonates with all she I around me. In that sense, through my works here, I’m exploring and attempting to define the ethereal in real.

Taking success

Being in the field of art, an artist has to incessantly work towards achieving perfection. Thusly, I have acclimatised myself to this work culture. Work has always been my prerogative and an eternal part of my existence. I could easily adapt to this working style because, I have been trained from a young age to work hard and put in my best foot forward, always. It wont be an exaggeration if I am quoted saying work is worship! Over the years, Art has become my life and constant companion. It is like a relationship that has been the only stable part of my being. Fortunately for me it has become my profession and my sole means of existence. I have been applauded as a successful artiste and been fortunate enough to have a huge following for my art. Having experienced both the brighter and darker sides of life, the journey has been beautiful and success becomes the feedback of your hard work.

Source of inspiration and expression

My initial inspiration in my formative years were greatly influenced by the impressionist painters especially Vincent Van Gogh and the abstractionist Paul Klee. My intense connection with nature which gets transposed into my abstract work is a result of my involvement with the subject as an artist my everyday life, travels and surrounding influences become a subject of my work. Colour texture form and most versatile medium of oil become my tools towards creating a unique language of my own to express myself. Besides, my grandmother who lived till the age of 90 was extremely hardworking and active till her last breath. Her basic values of honesty, hard work and dedication has been imbibed in me, she was another of the inspirations of my life. Art is about what you are and I feel that the canvas should be the mirror of an artist.

Coming back to Nature in Abstracts

Drawing from the spirit of my figurative works, I found my true self and fulfilment while creating abstract compositions. Discovering abstraction is much deeper than a play of colour or lines, I returned to my first love of landscapes and created a body of abstract landscapes and seascapes. Abstracts are about the person you are. They help you understand and work out the complexity of your own emotions. As I explored the expression I came to love the process of painting abstracts and then there was no looking back as I started painting abstract seascapes. Travels to port towns across the world, from Maharashtra’s picturesque Konkan coast to seaside towns in Greece dotted with white washed homes and edged by the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean, brought me in touch with the beauty of the sea, its openness and vastness, the majesty of spectacular sunsets across sky and water, the timelessness of rocks weathered by the water yet strong and unmoveable, and views of fishing boats at sea or tied the shore. The splendour and ever changing nature of the sea, the haunting beauty of abandoned boats and the stunning colours of sunsets have always fascinated me. The sea is always alive, active, overpowering and dynamic. I love the sea more than land. And as I recalled those seascapes, I created vignettes of sky, water and boats, in rich colours and tones, creating a spectrum of moods. Drawn against the shore, the boats stand against beautiful blue waters, against intense orange sunsets, and romantic misty mornings; sunsets tinge the horizon, sky and sea; and at night the sea shimmers mysteriously. And perhaps most of all the maturity of strokes, colours and compositions conveyed that I-the artist- had entered a glorious phase. Infact it was these mesmeric seascapes that caught the eye of Kekoo Gandhi and Harsh Goenka in a show in 2002, an interaction which was immensely reassuring and encouraging.

Sculpture

Around 2002 I took to sculpture, crafting works of scrap metal, savouring the possibilities of the expression as sculpture-unlike painting-offers viewers the joy of viewing works from all around. If this attribute is explored in its entirety then it transforms sculpture into an object that offers continual, changing and never-ending surprises and engagement. To me sculpture is an attempt to understand and realize more completely what form and shape are all about. Everything-from scrap metal to elements of nature-can offer a start for a new idea. These odds and ends ignite thoughts that go on to initiate a thread of creativity. I continue to enjoy sculpting and working with metal, and in periods of taking a break from working on canvases I refresh my creative energies creating metal works.

60 colours of joy!

60 is indeed a milestone birthday phasing into a new decade of life…I was blessed to bring in my special day with people who have played an important role in my journey. The theme of the occasion was ’60 colours of joy!’ where I had my family, friends, badminton group who I have known right from the age of ten and till when I went onto becoming a National champion and my art patrons join me for an evening. The day brought back a lot of precious memories. Cheers for the years behind and to follow!

RIP Dhiraj Choudhury

Dhiraj Choudhury was a modern Indian painter of international acclaim. My first association with him started in 1996. Dhiraj da was an extremely energised person over and above being an acclaimed senior artist who had an unusual knack of getting people together through art with his warm and friendly nature. I had the opportunity of meeting him at several occasions and also exhibiting my works with his for a duo show at the Nehru centre, Mumbai 2003… I always wanted to buy his works and it so happened that I was leaving for Pune from Delhi and he overnight made me my first piece of art as a collector… He was indeed a very prolific Artist…will always remember him with great respect and admiration…May his soul rest in peace.

Nudes

Extending my formal study of human figures during my Masters, I painted nudes and figurative through the 1990s. For me nudes were never about it being erotic it was more to do with the classical sensuality, the form of the body, the contours of human form which has a very soft, linear and definite posture with a play of light and shade. According to me each artist has his or her own perception about the subject and receives it with different sensibilities.

Clown

I have found the clown to be the best all-encompassing metaphor for human condition- an uncompromising mirror to look into for glimpses of the truth. We look at the clown and see ourselves – our hopes, dreams fears, our virtues, our flaws and our process. Clown shows us how we get into trouble without ever meaning or wanting to and how we sometimes stumble onto sublime solutions to our problems. The fool has eyes to see and heart to recognise. Whenever we are curious, playful or creative we are in ‘clown mode’ as well as when we are in a state of surprise- whenever we have lunches, act on impulse or disgrace- we are in clown mode. Whether strong emotions- laughing and crying at the same time as well. It’s the eternal child in all of us- the part of us that never grows and lives in the heart and in the moment with no past regrets and future to dread. The clown takes everything literally and personally, questioning everything under the sun except itself- flaunting the egg on its face, wearing the heart on his sleeve, with the best of inventions and no thought of failure, it leaps naively into danger – getting knocked down over and over again. It is an embodiment on hope in the face of hopelessness and possibility in the face of impossible. It offers us respite from our self –doubts and fears, and opens the door of joy. We all have a clown within…which should be recognised and can come out and play.

Figurative Art

After my formal training in art in 1988, I was keen to experiment with the figurative form. It started with the fascination of looking at the Banjaras who used to work at construction sites both in Pune and Mumbai among other parts of the country. They had a distinctive sense of dressing, very colorful attire, heavily adorned and bejeweled which drew me to them as a subject. In this series I used my technique of rendering that was arrived at during my earlier works of nature. It was also impressionistic in character and the colour renderings were achieved in textural variations which I so enjoyed using. Then followed the Clown series and the street entertainers, which I saw during my travels to Europe. Some nude studies, fishermen and women from the coastal areas were some of the subjects of my works that followed. After the year 2000 I returned back to nature in more abstracted expressions. I also was introduced to sculpting in the medium of scrap metal which allowed me the freedom to experiment in forms of figuration.

A memory etched forever

“When a man goes to a mountain, it becomes tough; but when a mountain comes to a man, it becomes easy.” everybody had suggested that I invite Mr. Jamshed Bhabha, chairman of Tata Sons for my solo show at the Jehangir art gallery in Mumbai. While I was young and confident I enthusiastically wrote him a letter of special invitation. Maki Masani, his secretary very sweetly replied saying that Bhabha doesn’t inaugurate shows else he would be only doing this every other day. In the meantime someone helped me get in touch with Mr. Sahdruddin Daya (Former sheriff of Mumbai and owner of Dawood shoes), one of the biggest art connoisseurs and collectors of modern art those days who inaugurated my show. I rushed home post the show as I had my M.A. final year exams to give. To my surprise there were four missed calls from Mr. Bhabha and he called again before I could even return his calls, he was all praises about my works as he had heard a lot about it from his wife and she had specifically asked him to attend my show. He soon started making enquiries about my works after which he humbly asked me to show him the works in Mumbai and also handed over a letter of recommendation from the graciousness of Maharani Gayatri Devi, who visited my home in Pune in 1987, appreciated my works and wrote to him recommending to see my works. This encouraged me to retain my spirit as an artist and he continued to patronize my works over the years. Late Jamshed Bhabhaji after personally collecting my works also promoted it on their Tata corporate calendar in 1988 along with some of the biggest names in the Indian art world, like the legendary M F Hussain, K H Ara, Laxman Shreshtha and Anjolie Ela Menon. This was the biggest learning lesson for me that all things unfold, just as they should in its own course. When something has to fall into your lap it will find its way, you don’t have to push, and fix leaks, and put out fires. You just let things work on their own. They happen.

Realising my feeling to be an Artist

I was always fond of drawing and painting and other forms of creative expression from my school days. I decided to pursue my passion in art and the desire to be an artist, by undergoing a formal training, a Master's Degree in Art in the year 1988. This is where my journey as an artist began. After nine years of painting, I had my first solo exhibition inaugurated by the legendry Late Mr. S.L. Kirloskar in the year 1986. The exhibition was a great success not only in terms of the positive response but also for the fact that I sold 45 of the 60 paintings in three days. This encouraging feedback and appreciation of my work motivated me to further pursue art as a career and made me more involved in the art world. My next show was at the prestigious Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai and was inaugurated by Mr. Sahdruddin Daya, one of the biggest art connoisseurs and collectors of modern art those days. In the same show, Late Jamshed Bhabhaji of TATA, personally collected my work and promoted me on their corporate calendar along with some of the biggest names in the Indian art world, like the legendary M F Hussain, K H Ara, Laxman Shreshtha and Anjolie Ela Menon. This further boosted my confidence to pursue art as a career in a sustained manner. The Late Maharani Gayatri Devi also rendered support to my work. Besides them, many of the illustrious names in the corporate world like Bharat Forge, Godrej group of companies, the Walchandnagar Industries, the Taj group, the Kirloskar Group, Bajaj, Firodia collected my works and leant support in my initial years and this enabled to reaffirm my belief in my art.

Spirituality and Philosophy

“You are born with certain cards”… I believe you are born with a certain set of cards- like a dice thrown at you, similarly you are given a set situation at every stage to deal with and you have an obligation to make something of it. I have always been guided to do what I believe in and only in things I want to do hence I take full esponsibility of my actions. Spirituality is a source of inspiration and philosophy for my behaviour, my values and my way of life. A meaning for me, of me and for others. Something I’ve always been finding throughout and has changed with various experiences. Spirituality is integrated in my everyday life, I do not need specific moments and rituals, meditation or mountain climbing for it. Art for me gives me the moments of introspection required to reach the understanding, it enables to go through experiences that make me more rounded and relaxed as a person, a detached total picture helps you to put it in the right perspective. Very absorbed and intense yet like a passing vision in the passage of time.