Bolivian artist's tryst with Indian sensibilities

PASSING BY

Fine strokes and geometric patterns make his work distinct from others. To add to this, his creativity, coupled with imagination, brings alive on paper images that appear straight out of a fairy tale. Such is the art of Bolivian artist Roberto who is known in the art world as Mamani Mamani.

In India to showcase his works for the first time, Mamani can be better introduced as a humble man of stout frame who has painted more than 3,000 pictures in about 70 series. “These have been painted on watercolour paper with resins that I prepare from various pigments myself,” says the artist adding, “Since I am in India now, I will buy natural colours from here.”

Standing next to a panel displaying one of his works, the man who has received various awards shares with Metrolife his creative journey. “Nobody from my family is an artist, yet I have interest in painting. When I was six-years old, I used to pick up the burnt charcoals from the brick stove that my mother used for cooking
and sketch with them.” So for Roberto painting is “God’s Gift”.

The idea of using bold colours, however, came to him when he heard his grandmother say, “Bright colours ward off bad spirits,” and therefore, most of his paintings are quite vibrant in their colour schemes and bear an imaginative stamp with regular objects captured in unusual angles.

A winner of United Nations’s award for photography in 1991, Mamani says, “I feel happy to showcase my work in India. The motifs used by painters here do bear a resemblance to Bolivian artists. Like for instance, the symbol of lightening is worshipped like a God in Bolivia,” he says as one correlates the shape to Lord Indra’s war weapon in Hindu mythology. It is difficult to forget his mythical vision of the Andes and the Pachamama (Mother Earth) even after one steps out of the exhibition ‘Namaste India’, currently on at Instituto Cervantes.

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