Each object is a nugget of oil on canvas and watercolour — soothing, and yet thought provoking. Artist Uma Shankar Pathak’s first exhibition, now on display, at Apparao galleries seeks to ask a question of the viewer — once we have pursued and achieved our material desires, what happens to our spiritual side?
“My recent works are the visual narratives of the struggles in the life of a peasant, conveyed within a vast space and an economy of colour.’” says Pathak, who holds a Fine Arts degree and lives in Delhi, but hails from Patna. In his exhibition he has used considerable technical skills to portray the hopes and aspirations of those hailing from rural areas, who have sought a better life in India’s big cities.
“Like every person, a peasant also wants to have everything and when he begins to earn everything, he is satisfied by nothing,” he says. Seeking to portray this human conundrum, he juxtaposes images such as the plough, crops and peasants alongside images of cars, buildings and houses. The viewer is taken on a journey much like the peasant — from the village and then on to the city. Pathak uses vast towers of houses as a symbol of stability and desire and the humble plough as a metaphor of a simpler, rural life.
A unique recurring symbol in many of his paintings is the zebra, used by Pathak to represent the bridge between rural and urban life, much like a zebra crossing connecting two sides of a city road. These animals are richly drawn, and add character to his vast canvases.
Pathak, who has been painting for the past 10 years, says, “Since childhood, painting has been the most prominent way to express my feelings. I try to make a place for myself to express my ideas and views in the context of human life in my works.”
(The exhibition is on at Apparao Galleries and will continue till January 9)