I was first introduced to Vinod Sharma as the artist all artists want to befriend. A smile never leaves Vinod’s face. Jovial, warm and effusive, 64-years old Sharma is the perfect picture of bonhomie. But none of this easy demeanor distracts from his artistic genius.
So, Sharma ji where did it all begin?
I studied science at school. My heart though was in painting. But my parents, like all parents in those days, thought painting could only be a hobby, not a vocation or profession. It took quite an effort to get them to allow me to join the Delhi College of Art. I loved it there. And then moved on for my Masters to Baroda.
Surf and waves dominate your works. Interpret them for me.
The surfsignifies aggression. It also symbolizes the free spirit. It stands for freedom in Nature. The waves denote aspirations, they denote ambition, they covey the indomitable will of mankind. My visuals represent the soaring future of mankind. Were man never to aspire, he would be a beast; were man never to fail he would be God.
Your works have not evolved over the years?
Not true. I have a signature style. Within that my strokes have become more powerful. The messaging has become more impactful. Why look far … most times when Prime Minister is receiving foreign Heads of State in his office, the painting in the background is a Vinod Sharma work!
Vinod Sharma is India’s No.1 art camp organizer?
True, without doubt. I have organized more art camps in India and abroad than anyone else … over a 100 for sure. From Anjolie Ela Menon to Manu Parekh to Jatin Das to Prabhakar Kolte to BaijuParthan to KS Radhakrishnan to Laxma Goud to Seema Kohli to HemaUpadhyaya to RekhaRodwittiya to RameshwarBroota to Sakti Burman to SuhasRoy to JogenChowdharyto Shuvaprasanna, I have had the privilege of taking them on various art camps.
What is an art camp? Why do artists want to participate?
An art camp is an organized group tour of artists to a destination that offers newer exposure and newer perspectives in art and architecture. The attraction could be museums as in Amsterdam. Or natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords. Being an artist is actually quite lonely. Art camps provide the perfect opportunity for travel and fellowship. You interact with fellow artists, imbibe new ideas, exchange ideas …
Who do you enjoy being more : the artist or the organiser?
My solo show at Jehangir recently was a runaway success. When your work is applauded you feel on top-of-the-world. The organizer in me is really someone who brings happiness to others. I enjoy that too.
Why do you think the art market is in doldrums?
Art across the globe has not recovered after 2008. In India too prices have remained depressed. I think art as an asset class has just not been marketed well enough. An art culture needs to be reignited.
Back to your landscapes. What makes them unique?
It is my brush-strokes. They have both fluid grace, and power. I recreate sea-scapes, mountain-scapes, desert-scapes as real; yet they feel exotic and ephemeral. As a viewer you want to be in that picture in that moment. My landscapes have a magnetism that makes every Vinod Sharma work unique. Collectors have told me many times they have seen that ocean-scape before somewhere. It is in their imagined memory. Creating that illusion as reality is my art.
Vinod Sharma the man, as compared to Vinod Sharma the artist?
I am a balanced man. I have a perfect family. I live with my wife, Madhu, and two sons. We live, eat, pray together. My evenings are reserved for my granddaughter. Life is peaceful if you are surrounded by your loved ones. I do whatever makes me feel good. I like travelling. Exploring the world for me is the ultimate wisdom.
As I wrap up the interview at Vinod Sharma’s sprawling penthouse in Mumbai, I cannot but help notice the paintings that adorn his walls and the sculptures that are carelessly scattered around. Trophies of his friendship with India’s most famous artists.
(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 email@example.com).
Pictures courtesy: Mukul Rai Bahadur