Stories of crisis on canvas

This exhibition reflects the frustrations and anxiety experienced by a visual artist in the wake of the pandemic.

Published: 08th February 2022 08:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th February 2022 08:31 AM   |  A+A-

This painting workshop will teach all those participating, the step-by-step process of making art with different shapes and techniques.

Image for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

A native of Thane, Maharashtra, Sudhir Patwardhan has been an artist for almost 50 years. Although he does not have a background in fine arts—Patwardhan graduated in medicine from the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, and is also a practising radiologist—he has always been inclined towards painting.

Back in college, Patwardhan was drawn to the emotional aspect of art. He elaborates, “The idea that artists are able to express emotions such as pain, sadness, and hope, intrigued me. I wanted to do the same; represent all the emotions that were around and in me.” This is aptly evident in his current works, which is on display at Delhi’s Vadehra Gallery, till February 23.

Patwardhan’s current exhibition ‘Portraits of an Existential Artist’ illustrates the anxiety and frustrations experienced by an artist who is confined in a world that is overshadowed by the repercussions of the pandemic. “The impulses that led me to this work are to do with my feelings of discomfort with art and about what art means to me,” says the 73-year-old visual artist.

‘Portraits of an Existential Artist’ is a collection of paintings created in 2021. The exhibition—it was unveiled on February 4, highlights Patwardhan’s experiences as a creative individual  in the COVID-wracked world. As part of Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms OVR:2021, this show will also be on view on the Art Basel website from February 9 till February 12.

Assualt, 2021’

Musings of a sceptic 
Exploring 20th Century art and literary movements of Dadaism and Nihilism, Patwardhan’s works are, as he mentions, a reflection “of many different things we are experiencing today—the pandemic of course, its unequal effects on different social classes, and the growth of intolerance and hatred being fostered.”

A sense of aggression is visible in each of his pieces—his work titled ‘Tear’ presents an individual (probably the artist) tearing a self-portrait in frustration. On the one hand, these paintings can be viewed as a representation of the many vexations of the artist, as well as the confinement of his artistic senses due to the lockdown. “Being cut-off from others and being forced into a shell can become oppressive, and then may be seen as a metaphor with wider connotations of alienation,” Patwardhan explains. On the other hand, he adds that his works are “responses to metaphorical conditions rather than actual physical confinement.”

The artist’s work titled ‘War I’ is quite graphic in its portrayal of violence. A homage to Italian painter Piero della Francesca’s fresco sequence ‘The Legend of the True Cross’, the painting shows a man stabbing a soldier. While many might imagine the man to be a portrayal of Jesus Christ, Patwardhan insinuates that he never meant to make such a resemblance. Explaining how he takes forward his theme of graphic imagery, he mentions, “The representation of extreme violence in art is always intriguing—this graphic representation becomes more beautiful the more it moves.”

Patwardhan’s works displayed in this exhibition question his emotions as an artist as well as the world he inhabits. This aptly-titled exhibition breaks away from the conventional, offering an array of emotions that question the fabricated nature of human experiences as a result of the pandemic. 


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