On giant canvases, 12 elephants stand with their calves playing around their legs. The tuskers radiate immense strength and power; while the younger elephants give out a playful rhythm. The work, by Pune-based artist Nilesh Pawar, is in acrylic and with an airbrush used to stencil several parts to create various levels of energy. The work titled Gajraja, was exhibited in his show titled ‘Energy’ at Mona Lisa Kalagram, Pune, recently. “I draw inspiration from nature. The structured form of the elephants emit energy and power. I used red, a colour that is often associated with danger and anger, to speak of energy,” says Pawar.
An alumnus of LS Raheja School of Arts, Mumbai, Pawar uses the five elements — air, water, sky, light and earth — extensively in his paintings. “Nature is filled with vivid, bright colours and each of these colours has some energy in them. It is how we believe in superheroes. Superheroes are nothing but human forms with a different kind of energy that embodies them,” he says.
The ‘Energy’ series depicts Pawar’s idea of the subconscious energy in nature. During exhibitions at Jahangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, and Art2Day Gallery, Pune, as well as shows in South Africa, New York, London, Singapore and Holland, he has been exploring the energies of nature on canvas. His initial works of seven paintings were dominated by personification of the elemental bodies in delicate human forms under the umbrella of ‘The Five Elements of Life’, while his latest mammoth works encompass a hint of spirituality and divinity in a bright spectrum of colours.
The transformation can also be traced to his strokes, in 2015 and 2018, which brought his art to a standstill. “I had planned this artwork of the elephants around five years ago. Due to my ill health, I could not summon the confidence to paint something large. It looks small once it is complete. But a blank canvas of 24 feet is too much empty space to fill. The support and strength I received from my wife and son helped me achieve this feat,” he said.
Pawar is skilled in his spraying technique with the airbrush and combining that with his understanding of tonal harmony and optimum colour tones. Each of his large-scale artwork is dominated by a circular motif which seems to radiate a latent source of energy and power. He worked extensively and completed his elephant art piece in a matter of three months. “This is a dream that you have as an artist to create something that stands out. There were moments where I felt I could not do it, but it is the hunger and craving for work that gives the energy to keep going. Once I was done with the 24 feet art work, I gained the confidence of making a 15 feet art piece, which is based on sadhus and spirituality. I feel that the ‘Energy’ series is not over yet, in fact I wish to keep going. Let us see where it takes me,” said Pawar.
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