Kaleidoscope of forgotten agonies

Kaleidoscope of forgotten agonies
by Seema Choradia

'Media and us' by C K Purandare

No social ill has a sure shot remedy. If that were the case, we might have seen a problem occurring only once in the world. Still, we persist in our search. Even if no one has solutions we try to unravel the problems to the best of our abilities. Chandrashekhar Purandare has highlighted such social pathology through his paintings.

Purandare comes from Pune, an engineer, now settled in Scotland. This is his first exhibition in India. He has displayed about 50 paintings in Su-Darshan art gallery.

His paintings are a no-holds-barred candid commentary on social ills. Futility of war, unfathomable complications of human relationships, massacres in the name of religion, diminishing social participation of middle class, onslaught of the media, absolutely miserable predicament of the downtrodden , and the fragmentation of society due to these tensions – he paints all these very ably. He has paintings on the arrogance of the super-power in the context of Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Equally effective is his depiction of the senseless slaughters under Jihad. These pictures tell us to reassess the positions and the ideologies behind war.

Middle Class has an important role to play in a society. But this class is seen to be giving too much importance to some beliefs and traditions and turns a blind eye to really important issues. E.g. once a woman becomes a mother, her life is supposed to have achieved its pinnacle, she is then taken to have fulfilled her social role to the fullest. This is made into a great emotional issue. Actually motherhood is just a biological fact. Even animals do it. Some of Purandare’s paintings are aimed against this narrow-mindedness of the middle class.

According to Purandare, his paintings are not an expression of beauty but a means of communication. And many of his paintings indeed talk to us. An old woman exercising her right to vote is one such painting. You can see the stark desolation behind the web of crinkles on her face. It is a very beautiful painting.

Most of the paintings in the exhibition are depressing. However, ‘Speak Memory’ based on Vladimir Nabokov’s book is an exception. So too ‘The Show must go on’ where a small boy is defeating the grandfather in a game of chess in a light mood. These are quite memorable paintings.

Really speaking each painting in the exhibition deserves a full article. This exhibition makes you look inward, prods to introspect and also makes you socially aware. This kaleidoscope of forgotten agonies is, without doubt, intellectually an immensely enriching experience.

[This review of the exhibition appeared in Dainik Prabhat, a marathi daily in Pune on Dec 30, 2004]