On stepping into the exhibition space on the ground floor of Jehangir Art Gallery one is confronted with what seems like a distant Indian village. The hills rising from the lake and a small cottage are actual frames of paintings, hand-painted with traditional watercolours in shades of deep blue, green, and white.
The creations, titled Prabhu Joshi: The Final Exhibition, are the works of city-based veteran artist, Prabhu Joshi, who through his art seeks to remind us about the pain of an immigrant. His paintings also highlight the rural living of his village Dewas near Indore in Madhya Pradesh and what all struck the artist while growing up.
Such exhibitions, which explore the repercussions of immigration through contemporary artworks from India, make up retrospective exhibitions, curated by Punarvasu Joshi, son of Prabhu Joshi. The exhibition ties together the artist's journey through various emotions of himself living away from his childhood home and family and adapting to the new ways of the metropolitan city. The artworks in the exhibition retain their roots in a specific rural past and migrating to a new city, whose impact continues to influence most immigrants even today.
Talking about what inspired his creation and put together this exhibition, Punarvasu says, “He was a self-taught painter. He painted raw houses in the village as a kid and gradually he started making diagrams for other students and sponsored himself. His journey as an artist has been rewarding in many ways. When he passed away I thought of making his artwork more accessible to people.” Punarvasu is a Nanotechnology Scientist with a PhD from the USA.
With an elite artistic representation, the paintings have a natural flow of colours with minimal use of brush — an apt metaphor for 'keeping it real', which we learn has a correlation with the artist's love for storytelling. “Both his paintings and stories highlight the theme of rural-to-urban migration and the plight of an immigrant who struggles for an identity and acceptance,” says Punarvasu.
Underlining his inseparable bond with the village, the artworks are arresting just by their visual brilliance. The works also highlight the artist's thirst to evolve when he uses acrylic colours to express his vision with a Ganesha painting posing as Natraj. The vibrant painting with orange, green and blue colours has golden outlines to amplify the visual experience.
Interestingly, the artist leaves his artistic identity through three triangle red dots on each of his paintings. Though these marks look random, they are smartly placed as 'frame within a frame' leaving the viewers focused only on the subject, defusing everything else on the canvas. “He painted his subjects in detail just like a camera picture. He was a passionate painter and all that he created was just out of his heart,” says Punarvasu in conclusion.
Ongoing till May 15 at Jehangir Art Gallery
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