Monsoons as Muse

City artists talk about their romance with the season as they recreate its many moods

Written by Rushil Dutta | Published: June 27, 2013 3:24 am

Monsoons are special because they evoke myriad emotions. The most dramatic turn of events in Indian cinema have occurred as it rained,for monsoon is a season of nuanced theatrics. Artistically,the season provides for great visuals,so much so that for many artists based in the city,the year begins with the monsoons.

“India is lucky to have three distinct seasons,without overlaps,” says veteran city-based artist Raosaheb Gurav. The summers take a toll on the energy of nature and organisms,says Gurav,adding that the rains come as a respite. It is this joy of relief that Gurav seeks to capture on his canvas. He is also concerned with the ephemeral “moods” that accompany monsoons. Artists are usually not seeking to mirror the natural phenomenon but engage in,as Gurav puts it,“a detailed punchanama (investigation) of the phenomenon,focusing more on the abstract feelings and less on objective detailing.”

Gurav has worked prolifically on rain-washed landscapes and seascapes,some of which are being exhibited currently in Paper Tells Art Gallery,which is also hosting the works of Sandeep Yadav,who lays great emphasis on spot-painting. The artist braves the torments of monsoon to capture its subtle side and prefers painting his subject as it unfolds. “On-the-spot painting imparts a natural look and an enviable liveliness. The painting actually takes longer to finish if we bring it back to the studio,” says Yadav,who is also exhibiting photographs of peacocks in the rain.

“I’m obsessed with peacocks,” admits Yadav,who fell in love with the beauty of the national bird in Peacock Bay,the navy training centre on NDA Road,which he visited daily for early-morning jogs. “I was earlier studying the female form and found a striking similarity between the gracefulness of women and peacocks,” he says. Painting peacocks dancing in the rain also allows him to play with vibrant colours.

Gurav and Yadav predominantly use watercolours for monsoon paintings. Artist Mohan Jadhav,a monsoon specialist who has worked for several years in the Konkan region,explains why watercolours are a favourite for this theme. “Watercolours are naturally transparent and communicate wetness and motion well. Acrylic and oil-based paints could also be used but they are inherently opaque,” he says.

Artist Anand Bekwad says there is also a technical rationale behind the use of watercolours in monsoons. Called the wet-and-wet technique,Bekwad says it is the process of using water-based paints in moist weather. The paint dries up quicker in other seasons but the moisture of monsoons increases the medium’s flexibility. “Clouds,mist,mountains and rain can be interposed one on another,owing much to the dynamics of water-colours,” says Bekwad,who is exhibiting his monsoon paintings at Darpan Art Gallery.

Zahid Shaikh,an upcoming artist,uses watercolours to translate his perception of rain-kissed Pune streets. His cityscapes come replete with minute idiosyncrasies of Pune roads in rain — jetting auto-rickshaws,scrambling two-wheelers and scurrying pedestrians. The focal point,though,is the wet glistening road,which becomes eloquent and organic in Shaikh’s paintings. The street becomes a surface that is pierced by multiple lights emanating from tail lamps.

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