Natural strokes render beauty

He has been visiting India for the past 38 years to observe Indian paintings, textile-dyeing and sculptures. Having painted for nearly half a century he still continues to question his own way of living for he never wants to settle for any one work of his.

"It is the figure that I sketch that tells me what I have to paint." The outcome is gigantic canvases painted in natural pigments which attract the viewer to their serene beauty. As one looks closer, they shine like real gems! Such is the work of Professor Kokyo Hatanaka's Japanese paintings.

"A painting is instilled with a story that describes an artist’s feelings; it’s a dialogue between the artist and those who seek to appreciate the emotions that a painting represents," says the artist whose works are a part of Japan's national heritage and are exhibited here as a celebration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan, in collaboration with Ranbaxy.

Hatanaka’s art is a product of colours made from natural and immensely expensive stones such as mercury, lac and melachite. He traces only on cotton, silk or handmade paper which enables the paintings to last much longer than one can imagine.

“It is difficult to paint on a flat surface with natural colours so I have to coat it many times which is a tiring process,” explains the artist. He uses only three thin brushes (crafted himself) to paint all canvases – be they small or big! A sight of the brushes and one is sure to remain startled for they are extremely thin and small. Be it Mahatma Gandhi’s salt Satyagraha, the portraits of 14th Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Lord Buddha, monks and nymphs, each tells its own story.   

The paintings provide an unhindered canvas of art sans any marks of brush strokes or blots of colour. He paints nature in its pure form and keeps the background brighter than the figures. "Brightly coloured paintings are priced higher than the lightly coloured ones in the history of art." Another dominant part of his painting are the eyes which the artist loves to paint. "Eyes are the most important part of face. If I hide my eyes, I cannot recognise the person," he says covering his eyes.  

A melange of Nihonga — a traditional art form of Japan and Indian themes, his large definitive figures are an eye-catcher especially ‘Salt Satyagraha’, which is the largest painting in the show made on 12 panels where he depicts the Mahatma being followed by men and women of various age groups.

Another such work titled 'Scattering Flowers', is created on a Japanese screen and bears celestial nymphs dressed in white saris who are scattering flowers. Painted on silk in 24-carat-gold leaf, it can be called a master piece of the collection but the artist still says, "I am still a student."This japanese style painting exhibition is on at AIFACS gallery till October 31.

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