A portrait of former President of India, K R Narayanan, painted by Delhi-based artist Neeraj Goswami hangs in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Indian Parliament. There is another portrait by Goswami – of former Speaker Balram Jakhar – which finds place on the walls of Lok Sabha. Goswami is an artist whose ability to create meditative, introspective portraits can be traced back to his college days when his copy of a Rembrandt portrait earned him many accolades.
One such evocative portrait done in oil on canvas is part of a group show titled Identity Proclaimed: Exploring The Persona that is being presented by Gallerie Ganesha in New Delhi and includes portrait work in various mediums ranging from oil on canvas, acrylic on paper and watercolour on paper. This group show by fourteen prominent artists, such as Akbar Padamsee, Chippa Sudhakar, Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Choudhary, Kavita Deuskar, Manu Parekh, Neeraj Goswami, Mohan Singh, Paresh Maity, Samindranath Majumdar, Suhas Roy, Sunil Das, Thota Vaikuntham and Yashpal Chandrakar, will be on at Gallerie Ganesha, Greater Kailash-II, from March 12 April 15.
“I am fond of creating expressionistic, abstract portraits. When I make ‘heads’, I feel I can impart to it a range of emotions. When we create an entire human form, it has movement, a rhythm and dynamism. But portraiture work is stable and profound,” says Neeraj Goswami, who likes to focus on the eyes in his work, which he believes are ‘a reflection of a person’s soul, and even his state of mind’.
Kolkata-based artist Samindranath Majumadar prefers to call his portraits “faces”. This is not the only work that has inspired Majumdar. His earliest influences were Rembrandt, Paul Gauguin and later, master-painter Rabindranath Tagore. “I realised Tagore’s work had elements of every artist I had admired,” says Majumadar, “and Tagore has remained like an overriding shadow in my art practice.”
An alumnus of Mumbai’s J.J School of Art, Delhi-based senior artist Manu Parekh – who had worked on portraits prolifically during the 90’ – has similar memories that have influenced his portrait work. “When I paint heads, I don’t paint heads. I paint an expression. When I paint an expression, I don’t paint an expression alone. I create a situation and an atmosphere. This has evolved from the fact that I was involved with Gujarati theatre during my college days and for me, a ‘head’ is the most powerful way of expressing emotions.”
Suhas Roy’s preoccupation is primarily with the female face and form, and his subjects are romanticised, inhabiting the dreamlike world between sensuality and innocence.
Akbar Padamsee is a contemporary Indian artist and painter, considered one of the pioneers in modern Indian painting who has worked with various mediums from oil painting, plastic emulsion, water colour, sculpture, printmaking and photography. The exhibition also involves works of artists like Chippa Sudhakar, Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Chowdhury, K.S.Kulkarni and Paresh Maity.