Capturing the essence of moments in watercolour

Capturing the essence of moments in watercolour

Art exhibit

Done in pure transparent form, artist Sajal K Mitra’s watercolours attempt to capture the essence of particular moments — whether it is an afternoon in Connaught Place, a busy street, or a ghat in the holy city of Benaras. These “intangible profound moments”, which otherwise may be hard to describe in words, have been lucidly expressed by the artist in his solo show, ‘Tug of War’, which is currently on display in the capital.

“I paint what I see, what opens up my imagination and what stirs my inner self. It is natural for any individual to get influenced by the surroundings he or she lives in. I draw my inspiration from the moments that we all encounter everyday but, otherwise, tend to ignore. I feel that it needs a compassionate and a sensitive mind to look at things from a different angle. That’s how an ordinary street with all its ‘not-so-beautiful objects’ becomes a piece of beauty in a work,” he says.

Done with utmost intricacy, Mitra’s works include people, birds and everyday objects like cars, autorickshaws and even dustbins and postboxes, that add volume and character to his canvas.

He says that since he is engrossed with the world around him, such objects tend to get included in his works, which according to him “enhance the credibility of a particular place and at the same time add to the charm of the composition”.

Explaining the show’s title, the artist says the works mainly deal with the concept of tug of war between light and shadow. He adds that it is not only the subject that is important for him, but also how the shapes, tones, light and shades play on various objects.

“As an artist, I consider myself to be a traveller on an interesting journey of discovery – of a particular corner, a particular perspective, a particular moment, and, finally my ownself. During the course of this artistic journey, somehow, I fell in love with watercolours. The fluid and organic feel of the medium got me entrapped and became an obsession; and this obsession continues to give me the same kind of joy that I experienced in the initial days, about 25 years ago,” he says.

However, on being asked about the challenges of working with watercolour, the artist says that medium is “somewhat difficult to handle” as it does not give the artist a “second chance” in case anything goes wrong on the canvas.

“Too much work destroys the transparency, softness and luminosity, which are the main attributes of this eccentric medium. Watercolour depends a lot on the ‘happy accidents’ that take place when one colour merges with another on wet paper and on the ability of the artist to control this flow of colours. One has to have the experience and expertise to use these ‘accidents’ to one’s advantage and ‘control the flow’ to create a successful watercolour. I enjoy this challenge to use this tricky medium to communicate my artistic vision on the joy of living and the ingenuity of human creations,” he says.

The show is on view until April 2 at the Art Gallery, India International Centre Annexe, Lodhi Estate.

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