This week we look a little closely at our Artist of the Month – Shaam Pahapalkar – through a Question & Answer session focusing on his ‘Art’ and his ‘Inspirations’.
How would you describe your art practice?
Over time I have come to see art and life as one, as in, I have never been able to see life and work as two different things. I find everything around me merging with each other. Trees, rivers, people, machines, buildings, everything becomes art. Everything seems to be a matter of perception. I can say that when vision, experience and emotion find an expression through a medium, it becomes art and that the limit of expression is infinite.
Mediums too have been expanding and with it the possibility of finding newer expressions. It is natural that the medium and form of expression will also change. The amount of things to know and understand has increased. All these are challenges for the artist. We need to understand things more deeply. It becomes necessary to understand the life around us and the soil that nurtures it. I feel that I still have to learn many things. I still have to see and understand many things. Perhaps, only then will I be able to do something simpler.
Do you have any specific methods?
I cannot say that I have any specific method. When I practice landscapes, I like the brush to be wrapped in a thick quantity of color and use it all in a single stroke. For the next stroke a different mix of color. That’s why the canvas becomes thickly colored. In the medium of acrylic, thickness of the layer of colour is hardly perceptible, while in oils it is – and that is the way I like it. When I am working on a concept, the concept becomes more important and the strokes reside in the background. But, I do not like to become too technical with all these.
What are your favourite mediums to work with?
Every medium has its own charm. If an artist understands the nature of the medium, then he or she can use it to bring a powerful impact. Sometimes, a composition too may decide the choice of a particular medium. Where the medium of oils give a richness of technique and depth to the painting, the medium of acrylic immediately provides a sense of transparency. But to make it richer, one will need the help of a number of layers. However, today with shortage of time, artists work more with the medium of acrylic. There are many different and newer mediums to work with today with which I wish to explore.
What influences the work that you create?
I feel that a person’s childhood always remains with the person. The culture in which one is brought up directs one’s perception. My life began in a town that seemed more like a village. Surrounded by the beauty of mountains and rivers, Mandala is a religious place. My family and the people living there are simple and religious minded.
I have passed my former years roaming in the surrounding jungle and sitting idle by the banks of the river in Khairagarh, a place where I began my education in art. From such simpler beginnings I shifted to cities like Mumbai and Delhi. The differences between smaller and bigger places have made a lasting impression on me. I had in front of me the difference in human values. In metros, all things around me were new and different.
I feel that we have a close relation with objects around us, there’s a story which we see or don’t see depending on our experience of the object. In this world there remains a desire to know the infinite, and at the same time there’s a much stronger desire to know the parts. Apart from painting, I have done a B.Sc. in Mathematics and have also learned music. Having done all this, I realize that every subject, at some point, converges.
I feel that in this hastily pacing life, we hardly have the leisure to see things around us. Or, even if we see, we do not intend to carry it in our hearts. Besides the life that we see, there’s another life that moves around it. I try to capture that.
Who and what inspires you artistically?
I have been born and brought up in a simple minded Maharashtrian family. My Father had been a theatre artist and my elder brother used to paint. Every festival inspired an environment for creative outbursts. My primary inspirations have been my father, mother and my elder brother. In my childhood I had seen them decorate idols at the Ganpati festival. I liked it a lot. And I use to create a small idol of Ganpati myself and then decorate it in some corner. Then in Khairagarh, my faculty S K Shrivastav, himself a great master at making portraits, understood my inklings and encouraged me further. As good fortune would have it, I was in Khairagarh where I met some good masters of music and dance and with whom I shared an intimate dialogue. I learnt many things from them. When I shifted to Ahmedabad, there too, I befriended many and they too have made an impression on me and my work.
Which artists have made an impact on how you work?
This is not so easy for me to answer, simply because the journey is long and we go through many experiences. There are things that we imbibe from our surroundings and there are things which we leave as they are. There are people with whom I find myself in convergence and there are some from whom I diverge. But I like artists that have remained purer, who have seen and inspected life closely and have painted so and have not painted simply for the sake of selling work.
In the works of Bhupendra Khakkar there is reflected a complete organisation of society. In the bold lines and portraits of F N Souza I find life, secluded from the circles of society. Works of Ramkinker Baij inspire innocence. In the way Van Gogh applies color, I see the truth of that person. What shall I say? To be so true and pure is extremely difficult. The installations of contemporary artists like Anish Kapur, Mithu Sen and Ranbir have also fascinated me.