A cricket match is a spectacle that invariably turns into nothing more than an episode to remember. There are various representations of that episode in the form of video replays and photographs. However, regardless of how sharp those images may be, they seldom match up to the romanticism that comes with a canvas that has been touched upon by an artist’s brush.
“A painting has a life of its own and I try to let it come through,” says 26-year-old Faiz Ahmed, who is a freelance artist and an art teacher in National Institute of Fine Arts in New Delhi. Ahmed had been assigned to encapsulate Gautam Gambhir’s last competitive cricket match on his 3×3 canvas. Fittingly, Gambhir’s farewell was just as romantic as Ahmed’s rendition of it – the 37-year-old scored his 42nd First Class hundred.
“This is the first time I am painting a moment in sport. I have done live paintings but not on such a platform. I was invited by Dinesh Chopra and started working since the start of Day 1,” revealed Ahmed in an exclusive chat with the IndianExpress.com
Bringing Gambhir to his fabric has been a challenging task for him. Ahmed started with capturing the distinctive Kotla grandstand, adding grey skies in the background to depict the smog that engulfs the stadium and its surrounding in Delhi’s winter morning.
With the background set, work began in full swing once Gambhir arrived in the middle on Day 2. According to Ahmed the minimum time to get a live painting ready with proper details is a week but he had to get the job done in half as many days.
Ahmed had Gambhir’s trademark front foot defence imprinted in his mind but getting used to the rotation of strike and change in field positions after each over was one of the early hurdles he had to tackle. “Whenever the strike changed I had to wait for one over,” recalled Ahmed. In addition to that, acrylic colours like cobalt blue, Prussian blue, crimson, burnt umber, yellow ochre and cadmium yellow, used on the canvas take time to settle and that added to the delay.
“The size of the canvas in terms of three days wasn’t ideal either. As in, the canvas size was a little bit big in terms of capturing details of 3-4 days. Had it been smaller I could have wrapped it up easily,” Ahmed explained.
Another aspect which needed to be dealt with was sunlight. “As daytime keeps dwindling, rays of the sun across the ground changes colours. So the moment I am trying to capture has one light, an hour later some other shade and by evening it is dull. So this was equally challenging,” said Ahmed.
“Catching the position and gesture of each figure and keeping it in your mind is the trick. To cover the area of the outfield I took it home and worked overnight for two days to complete them,” he added.
The masterpiece is ready. However, Ahmed does have one regret. “The moment I wanted to capture was Gambhir’s favourite stroke- square cut. But that shot is played in a matter of seconds and in real time capturing it was not possible. If I did then it would have given me more satisfaction,” he remarked.
After the match is over on Sunday there is a felicitation ceremony planned for Gambhir at his home ground. It is there that Ahmed will present his painting to the man himself.
“Let’s see. I hope he accepts it.”