From Scotland to Shaniwar Peth

From Scotland to Shaniwar Peth
Times News Network

Pune: The Shaniwar Peth-based Su-Darshan art gallery’s year-long efforts to take art to the people has met with a people’s painter – and an unabashedly political one at that.

Noticed first as the writer of a well-researched series on the Naxalite movement in the magazine ‘Manoos’, in the 80s, Chandrashekhar Purandare moved to Scotland 10 years ago. Three years ago, he moved to painting because he realised , ‘‘Language, as a means of communication, is falling short. It is creating more confusion than it is clarifying issues.’’

Purandare’s work has been divided into political, semi-abstract [political undercurrent] and literary portraits. His portrait of Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot has been picked up by the UK author Sarah Young for her book. One of his other portraits has also been picked up for Pune author Makarand Sathe’s new novel.

'Watching you' : An acrylic painting by Purandare

Purandare’s entire art, however, falls in the ‘Outsider art’ category in the UK, and his presence to considerable international acclaim, is largely on the Net, since he ‘‘not in it for sales’’.

He declares that 60 per cent of his paintings are political . “They are a documentation of social misery and investigation of the social pathology behind the misery.”

He quickly adds that he is not a trained artist and instantly dismisses the traditional notions of aesthetics. “ The idea of aesthetics is defined by the upper classes of society, which falls like nine-pins when faced with the realities of war, disease, poverty and man-made disaster.” No wonder subjects of his paintings are Iraq, Afghanistan, Gujarat riots, Ethiopia.

He speaks with the clarity and conviction you associate with extinct leftist intellectuals of yore, though he is loathe to be attached to any ‘ism’.

Should he be challenged for sitting in the lap of luxury in Scotland and painting misery?
“Now that’s a fascist view. If I can be said to be in a privileged position, it is all the more obligatory for me to talk to the West about its indifference to the Rest of the World, and to the Indian upper class about its indifference to the Indian poor,’’ he says.

[This news-item appeared in The Times of India - Dec18, 2004]