Free Press Journal

Manish Pushkale: The painter of light and shadows


Manish Pushkale had his first brush with fame when he won the S H Raza Foundation award at the young age of 30 years. By 2006, he was breaking auction records alongside Atul Dodiya, Baiju Parthan and G R Iranna on Saffronart. My acquaintance with Manish is more recent. The Pushkale of today is a matured, deeply immersed and well honed artist who treats the world as his canvas. His play with light, with umbras, penumbras and antumbras gives him a painting style that is unique and unmatched.

How would you best describe your art?

I do abstract art. Art that plays with light and light that creates shadows, figures and images that are unique in shape, form, meaning and interpretation. These are images that are not captured by the human retina or by any camera lens. These are images which technology cannot create. These are images of realities which exist beyond our peripherals and in our conscious mind as well as our sub-conscious. This art is about patterns in my mind that take shape on my canvas.

What is the inspiration for the kind of work you create?

I am a geologist by training. While studying rocks and stones, I was always fascinated by the natural shapes and forms created by Nature in those creations of God. Which is why my art today is intrinsically linked with the divine and the mythological, without making overt references to the past or to the God Almighty. My colour palette is subdued and lends a lingering calm to my works. If you look closer, you can see however deeper meanings. Subtle brush strokes and shading gives my works a depth of many philosophical interpretations that can be seen in different light by different collectors and critics.

Manish Pushkale is better known in abroad then he is in India? True or False?

 I have had the honour of having my works displayed at prestigious galleries like Argosy in Dubai, Bodhi Art in Singapore, Gallery 27 in Oslo, Presbitare Gorbio in France, Chelsea College of Art in London and Gallery Mueller and Plate in Munich. I have also been displayed at Aicon Gallery, Palo Alto, and at CA Hirers Show in Hong Kong Visual Art Museum in Hong Kong. At the same time I have exhibited at most of the prestigious venues in India. To me audiences everywhere are the same. Collectors globally love my work for it subtlety. My art sells. I suppose fame follows fortune.

You are said to have a special relationship with SH Raza. Tell us about it.

I first Raza Saheb in 1994 at Bharat Bhawan, Bhopal. Ever since then he was my teacher, guide, mentor, philosopher and friend. He inspired me to do more, to do better, to grow everyday and to grow in every which way that would maximize my talent and my work. And he expected nothing in return, demanded nothing in return. Got nothing in return. Except my devotion, my prayers and my gratitude.

It is said when Manish Pushkale gets restless, he runs to the hills. Why is this periodic cleansing required?

I have a studio in the foothills of the Himalayas at Ranikhet, in the state of Uttrakhand. It is known as ‘Devbhoomi’, the place of Lord Shiva. It is pure and pristine in every form. We get a glimpse of every type of flora and fauna there. The pine, oak, and deodar forests host an array of wildlife. It is like a charging point for me similar to how a mobile is charged; it refreshes my mind, brings me peace and tranquility. It is like a rebirth through nature away from the plastic world I inhabit everyday and where everything is measured and calibrated. It adds humanity in me to work for the good.

Pre the 2008 bubble your art was selling at stratospheric prices. Will the good times come back?

I was painting before 2008, and I am painting after that. You win some. You lose some. Ups and downs are part of life. Art cycles normally follow a 10-year cycle. So it is time that the upward trend starts again soon. But even in the interim, I have done exceedingly well as I took my art overseas where prices are better and there is more enduring appreciation for talent.

(Mukul Rai Bahadur is an art lover, collector and critic. He lives in Mumbai and works in a media company. He can be reached at

Pictures courtesy: Mukul Rai Bahadur

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