Imagine a rickshaw puller who sits majestically in his vehicle, like a king, murmuring an old song, that’s one of those moments, which brings rural India alive. And that’s exactly what watercolour artist Raj Kumar Sthabathy always tries to capture. His objective is to preserve this raw culture before it gets lost in today’s fast changing world.
Simplicity inspires like nothing else.
The common Indian village folk has a distinct body language, costume and general way of life. The simplicity and rarity that is so engraved is highly appealing for any artist. Even with minimum colours, their lives can beautifully narrate themselves on the canvas. It’s surprising how small things can make them happy. And when this simple life is conveyed through a canvas, it calls for dignity. When people around the world admire a painting, the rickshaw man finds his own space in this huge, complicated world.
Art captures the moment you missed.
70% of the Indian population still dwells in villages. And it’s surprising how little about them is known. Art is a time machine, taking people to times they’ve not witnessed or experienced. Traditional paintings, featuring rural folk, represent the memorable moment’s city dwellers have missed. Sadly, the rural man’s space is getting minimized by modern, urban expansion. And that’s where an artist must use his most powerful weapon, art, in order to gratefully record the rural commoners. So that those who have missed out understand the underlying intention, appreciate it and perhaps even do something about it.
Rural is versatile.
A rickshaw and rickshaw man can be converted into 1000 drawings. But it is very tough to do the same for a BMW or a millionaire. Even if someone is able to do it, there are high chances that it could be confused for an advertisement. That’s why rural subjects transpose into creative expressions more effortlessly, giving an artist a unique edge in his work. Rural India lets open hundreds of such possibilities to create engaging stories that are at the same time melodic, expressive and emotive.
Watercolour speaks the truth.
It is the only medium that has the ability to capture colours and fragrance of native India. What’s best about this medium is that it seems to have a mind of its own. The space of its spreading and the final result beyond the efforts of the artist make watercolour come alive. During the process of creating, it sometimes flows like water, spreading and selecting its own path to create new colours and images. Sometimes, even white spaces are created as they curve around certain places. When such magical transformations happen, viewers often perceive them as extraordinary talent of the painter.
The more you experiment, the better the medium becomes.
Working with watercolour is also about making conscious efforts. Regardless of the independent nature of the medium, an artist can take it nonetheless, wherever required. Like using dark to light technique instead of the other way round gives the painting an intense definition. The way one creates strokes with the brush and colour also adds character to the painting. Working with modern and attractive strokes helps create unique artwork to startle the audience.
Passion can become a cause.
Modernism is what dominates the times of today. And everything around us is changing without an announcement. In today’s fast changing times, there are some things that remain the same. Like the rickshaw man who waits in the street for his pick up or the Kuthoo performer who practices the role of Draupadi with his long hair or those cow dung pasted walls. Before rural India flows away in the changes and loses itself to the pace, it’s imperative to capture it. For an artist, drawing inspiration from the rich experiences of rural life can turn into a mission to preserve the real and simple living and showcase it to the world.
Published in Issue 09
This issue focuses on strengths and weakness of Indian creative business with cover from Archan Nair. Also, include some of the fearless creatives who had made their mark in the industry without compromising on the quality of the output and many more interesting reads.
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