Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pavement 'Art'

By Suchita Mundhra

The life of no artist is simple or easy. After years of hardships and struggle they make a place for themselves and earn a recognisable name. This is no fairy tale or rags to riches story, this is the story of ‘just another’ artist who strives not to gain recognition but be loyal to art. Amidst the glitter of The Times of India Kala Ghoda Arts Festival there were faces who craved for attention and their paintings hung on the walls of the pavement of the streets of Kala ghoda. So little is known about these pavement dwellers of the area, who sketch live portraits for a cost of Rupees hundred. Kala Ghoda festival is a means for them to see more faces and sketch more.

The Pavement Art Gallery of Kala Ghoda truly reflects the picture that there isn’t a dearth of artists. While crossing the pavement everyday as one enters the official venue of the festival, some of these works strike attention. They may not have received any formal training but that does not stop them to pursue art in the public. Some of them take this passion for art further and an instinctive decision has brought them in the art scene. This stands true in the case of Sanjay Dorlikar, a resident of Chandrapur, a town 150 kms from Nagpur in Madhya Pradesh. Eight years in Mumbai, selling art on the pavement of Kala Ghoda he is among the hundred others who come to the city of dreams. No amount of hardship can deter him. Art was not a means that he chose out of compulsion but a deliberate choice. A diploma in Industrial Engineering that could fetch him a decent job did not curtail him to pursue his interest in art.

His interest in painting and sketching lies in the early years of his childhood when he would nonchalantly sketch the people around him to became a source of inspiration and also models. This later got refined and transformed into a serious liking towards the art of portraiture. Gradually, to broaden his horizon he drifted towards landscape. Looking at a few of his work one sees the minimal use of colours. Black, white and grey dominate the colour palette. These shades depict the dark as well as the brighter side of his life. For him each painting is about depicting his mood and thoughts. The aggression and the force that he feels from within are translated on the canvas. For him one lifetime is not enough for any artist to accomplish all. For the last 3-4 years he has been deeply studying the life of Buddha and painting Buddha in different forms. Every time he completes a work it gives him a sense of satisfaction and serenity.

When asked what it is that had brought him to the city and that connects him to this place so well, he pronounces gleefully, ‘the sense of freedom has brought me here’. He stands complacent sketching faces everyday, but his face is hardly remembered or name hardly recalled. When asked Neeti, one of the customers who got herself sketched by Sanjay as to how did she find his work, a blank expression followed and the first thing she said was, ‘ I did not bother to ask the name of the ‘guy’ who sketched’. This is how fast he is forgotten and this ‘guy’ who sketches faces everyday is has a ‘nameless’, ‘faceless’ existence.

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