Saturday, May 16, 2009


Art in it form based avatar involves a continuous struggle to reinvent the existent apparent world. From form to the spirit is a tedious and very lonely journey for an artist. Delhi based artist Pramod Ganapatye has carried this struggle to it fruition through his recent oeuvre being exhibited in one person show in Arushi gallery in Delhi.

His paintings mostly of women depict ordinary rural womenfolk that he grew up seeing in Malwa in Madhya Pradesh. The women are heavy-set and monumental. The kind of women you come across all over rural India. They are no beauties from Ajanta frescoes or the ones painted by Raja Ravi Verma--fine curvatures and doe-eyed. They are neither what you find in calendar art so ubiquitous. These women like Picasso’s Greek period work are monumental but here the similarity ends. They are not stately but ordinary Indians with their struggles, fears and the fight of daily life writ large on their faces. The figures are rendered in thick but softly roving lines. These lines render the women so soft mass of flesh more like Oblomovian characters. But this is done to emphasise the ravages that women undergoes in being a mother but also the struggle she wages to succour family.

This imparts Pramod’s women not attributes of physical perfection but the anguished mundaneness of the daily grind of life of masses of India. The history of a nation is not only of the rulers and the kings but more of the ordinary folk who never enter the hallowed hall of history. Pramod carries on in line with Indian modernist like Amrita Sher Gill, Ramkinker Baij and others who depicted the lives of rural women. But Pramod renders his women not in action but either in repose or in frozen gestures. They are lonely figures surrounded their own silence. Strangely his figures counterpoint the opposites. The monumentaily and heavy mass of the figures is contrasted with a feeling of vacuous emptiness that oozes from their sad eyes. Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus focused on the angst and existential emptiness of urban middle class milieu in Europe and T.S. Eliot in his poem The Wasteland reflects similar concerns, but Pramod breaks an outsider’s view of romanticized pastoral life to focus on the angst of village women. It is here that he succeeds with finesse through his sensitive understanding and portrayal of life of rural women in India.

The use of light in Pramod’s paintings follows a strange undefined and unpredictable pattern. There seems to be no definitive source of light and it appears to be highly whimsical. The light is independent to the source. This way of using light makes his lonely figures a bit mysterious. His colours are frugal and muted and there is no bombast or exuberance in his palette.

In keeping with the subject of his paintings namely rural women the rendering of the figures suggests naïve style. Indian folk and tribal arts are the fountainhead of free, emotive naïve expression and Pramod has rightly taken inspiration from it coming as he does from Madhya Pradesh with largest tribal population in India and a very rich folk art.

To me Pramod is reinventing the ethos of a culture that flourished in 2,65, area about 5000 years ago in India. We are all very much familiar with dancing girl bronze figurine from Mohenjo Daro. But these ancient people worshipped a women goddess evident innumerable female figurines found in excavations. These figures known as Mother Goddess are in naïve style and plump and heavy and evoke the motherhood so common to almost all prehistoric cultures. Pramod’s works do suggest women as ordinary individuals and also as life giving mothers deified by early Indians of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa.

Vijay Kumar
(Director & Curator (India Asia) European Artists Association Velbert Essen Germany Nativity Delhi, India)

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