Updated: Aug 25
As an artist, I have been used to spending a lot of my time with myself and my thoughts and so when the lockdowns began, it did not feel like much of a lifestyle change. However, as some exhibitions got cancelled and uncertainties grew, my process of creation of art slowed down. Organically, a pause came into being and I started spending more and more time watching art documentaries, observing my older paintings and gradually questioning the elements of my work. And, my search gravitated towards colour.
I ended up discovering and rediscovering philosophies of master artists that plunged into the very core of what colour is. Many of these kindled explorative processes within and some quotes left a profound impact on my thoughts.
I read that colour is a raw material indispensable to life and this moved me. Above all, Prabhakar Kolte’s quote “To understand black, become black” left me pondering deeply. The whole learning experience was powerful and took me back to the basis of questioning who I was and what art meant to me. And, I started to look for answers.
I first actively tried to imbibe these philosophies. How do I become colour? I focussed my energies consciously and thought to myself that I am black, I am black. But, something did not just sit right. I then went back to colour theory and plunged into research. That did not work either. As I tried to make sense of all this on the canvas, my work did not speak to me. It was then that I decided to let go.
I just let myself be and somewhere in those moments, I became. I was sitting in a corner at my studio with my eyes closed. One day, awake but dreaming, I was listening to a cuckoo singing from a tree and the pitter patter of the rain played with the silence. And, just as I was dissolving into the moment, a picture of myself came to my mind. I was at an airport, looking at the departure chart for hours. I was a rust colour, all my features clearly defined but all rust. As I kept staring at the screen, I suddenly melted into a puddle of that same beautiful rust colour. I saw me in that visualisation and I saw me as colour.
This became the inspiration for my work and I brought out the exact same shade of rust on my canvas with lighter and darker accents showing the effects of light. I see myself spread out on the canvas in a sense. This inquiry about the existence of correlation between myself and colour has changed me as an artist, it has changed my process at a technical and structural level. It has changed me as a person.
As I went in search of colour, I realised that it had turned into a rigorous inner search for self. This search is as abstract as life itself but leaves me with a profound sense of awareness that when change beckons, there is something very beautiful about shedding your past self and evolving into what you are meant to. This journey of exploration has been cathartic. It has left me with a new perspective and has shown me the power of sheer intrigue and the liberating freedom of embracing change. I am excited about my upcoming work as I take on a new approach and look forward to what it becomes and invokes! Until next time, I leave you with these beautiful lines to mull over - Colours are not always symbolic and do not always carry a message. Colours have their own universal existence. Colours do not represent human concepts and thoughts like words do. Every colour has its own light as well as an identity as a result of the visual perception (this is true in case of sound as well) Red is red first; it Is the human mind based on its limited rational thinking that makes a symbol of something. In fact red does not symbolise anything. It acquires a new form when one observes how it is placed next to a dot yellow in the ensemble of a painting. Trying to force any other meaning on it other that this would simply be wrong. They make us aware of the existence of colours and their qualities that come to light when they are freely used on the canvas. - V. S Gaitonde.
In search of blue
Mixed Medium on Linen Canvas
Size : 48.75" by 38"