Saturday, July 29, 2006

Emphasis on abstracts is nothing but copying of European painters

In the lap of nature: Finally, there are two veteran painters who speak against the ever rising, unreasonable price tag on the paintings. Just read on as Serbjeet Singh and Vinod Sharma take stock of the art scenario today VETERANS SPEAK Serbjeet Singh and Vinod Sharma paint for passion. Everything else comes later The Hindu Metro Plus DelhiSaturday, Jul 29, 2006
They are both mesmerised by nature in its moment of perfection - a distilled, pristine purity that is fleeting as it is permanent. It beckons to them to reveal its myriad moods in a dance only they can perceive and better still, capture. It then becomes a part of their mind's eye to gush forward in a burst of joyous abandon that takes on an energy that almost spiritual in its manifestation. And yet in this abstraction is a narrative that unfolds in layers of silences.
Alka Raghuvanshi brings together artists Serbjeet Singh and Vinod Sharma whose landscapes bring the outdoors inside in an amazing interplay of light, textures and shadows. Their creative instincts have led both of them to explore the medium of film as well. Serbjeet's charming wit has us in splits as he has a million anecdotes to tell - pity he refuses to write them - of people and their quirks. Affable Vinod's frequent smile lights up his face as he talks about the restlessness that impels him to explore new vistas and traverse the extra mile.
Vinod: When people ask me as to why my focus was on landscapes for nearly four decades, I tell them it is only in India where we have some of the most stunning landscapes that we tend to take for granted - because they are there! Besides, for my love affair with nature to have lasted this long, there must be something in it!
Serbjeet: Exactly! Only in India the genre of doing landscapes is taking a backseat. This contemporary emphasis on abstracts is nothing but copying of European painters of 80 years ago! Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne have all been adopted by the various top Indian painters whose work has not grown beyond these adopted maibaaps! I remember Sanjay Gandhi got very upset with M.F. Husain for portraying his mother Indira negatively dressed!
Vinod: To me, my work is abstraction. When I see your work, I find it totally abstract. I'm not painting a tree like a photograph or even trying to reproduce it. It is a matter of perspective.
Serbjeet: True, it is a bit like Rashomon! It is a matter of your own perspective. There are times when I do white, transparent skies. Because I have trekked 25000 miles myself through the upper reaches of the Himalayas I am able to play with perspectives. I have house in Dalhousie and I would wander off in the mountains in the old British tradition of adventure for yourself - not for setting any records.
Vinod: Same here. I don't photograph landscapes, but try to experience them and then create the textures that my mind saw and my heart remembers. For textures are very important for me - having been a student of printmaking in my initial years. I find the feeling of painting on location totally different from doing it later in the studio. The immediacy has its own context.
Serbjeet: When I was making Himalaya Darshan series of films, it was such an experience to capture on camera what was part of my own mental sketchbook. You know I have made nearly 400 short films! And I will have you know that I got the Edinburgh award five years before Satyajit Ray!
Vinod: I too find film filmmaking very exciting. It is my passion. I once did the art direction of a horror film and loved it! When I am doing a film I want to be in every department - including attending the shooting!
Serbjeet: What is rather heartbreaking is that young artists are not allowed to grow. There is a waiting period of gallery booking for two years!
Vinod: I think there is a stranglehold of a few painters and the monopoly of a few is having a very negative impact on a few painters.
Serbjeet: Just as this current trend of artificially hiked rates of paintings is nothing but money laundering. When the business is of multi-crores, then it is financially unsustainable. Rich men's bored housewives throwing page 3 parties is not how a gallery is run. There are too many layers within it. In the last 10 years or so, painting has become a matter of speculation like stocks and shares. Even if you were to take it at face value, who in India will spend 10 million on a painting? It has to stabilise and then the real prices will emerge.
Vinod: It is nothing but natak baazi. Price rise of 10 to 15 per cent is sustainable. And the current trend of going overboard and raising it 200 per cent is just not sustainable. Even if I were to do it for my work, I'll feel guilty myself! Besides art must be within the reach of the middle classes as it was meant to be. In the long run, it is bad for the art if it is bought for mere investment.

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