There’s something to be said about the atavistic charm of the old streets of India. A painting series titled A walk through the Old Delhi Streets by artist Shirish Despande is currently on show at Chitakala Parishath. “This series is all oil on canvas. I have been doing ball point pen art for more than five years and I’m used to it. I wanted to replicate the way I work with colours and their tonal values with oil. So I used dry paint techniques to achieve this. To create different tonal values, I used the brush lightly or with force,” says Deshpande.
He first started with capturing areas in Old Delhi in photographs. The cycle rickshaw is a recurring motif in all of his works, as well as overhead electrical wires, that criss-cross between the streets. The colour palette is mainly prussian blues, yellow ochres and reds. “I was looking for a similarity in my works in this series so I stuck to a minimalistic palette which evokes faint hues of dawn,” says Deshpande.
Interestingly, the paintings have a sense of quiet in them, a feature you wouldn’t associate with streets of any old Indian city. “I visited these streets in the early mornings and observed the life on them, capturing the misty atmosphere. I also went on a Sunday morning, when all the shutters are down and people are just about to start their day,” says Deshpande.
The series took a month to work on. “I had visited Old Delhi a long time ago and immediately fell in love with it. Now, it was time to translate my emotions into paintings,” says Deshpande.
The artist has also displayed some of his ball point paintings at the venue. “I was in search of some medium that would give my visualisations some justification. I experimented with several media but I didn’t achieve the effect I wanted. Then I stumbled upon ball point painting. Earlier, you wouldn’t find ball point pens in very many colours, just black, blue, red and green. Now you can have sets of ten colours. Ball point pen companies don’t recognise the power of this medium in art. I have written to them but they don’t respond too well,” says Deshpande whose sources of motivation are simple.
“I’m very inspired by light and how it plays with objects to create the kind of atmosphere it does,” says Deshpande