Vibrant Strokes

Known as India’s foremost colour-field artist, Khairnar draws inspiration from nature.

Published: 01st May 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th April 2022 01:41 PM   |  A+A-

A few mixed media paintings on canvas from the portrait series showcased at Usha Phenany Pathak’s solo exhibition ‘Gold Mines’

Representational image

Inspiration drives artists to start a painting. What makes them stop? “A feeling of completeness,” says artist Pandit Khairnar. A case in point is a white artwork of his, which is part of his ongoing solo show at the Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi. After working three days on it, he stopped. “When I stood in front of the painting, I felt something supernatural. It gave me a feeling of fear in one instance and peace in another,” he recalls. When he asked his friends for their opinion, they felt it was complete. “However, it took me three months to accept that it was indeed complete,” admits Khairnar sheepishly.

The ongoing exhibition (ends on May 7) titled Between Light and Shadow: Travels through an Indian Landscape marks the centenary year celebration of the gallery. The Nashik-based artist’s show is an extension of his passion for landscape works. 

Known as India’s foremost colour-field artist, Khairnar draws inspiration from nature. A style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s, colour-field painting was inspired by European modernism and closely related to abstract expressionism. 

The 54-year-old artist’s 18 large works on canvas and paper traverse the pathway of memories, reminding us of sunshine, shadows of clouds cast on deserts or mountains, crisp cool morning air and the sound of a stream running. His subtle series of graphite studies is abstract calligraphy of horizontal lines. During the lockdown, Khairnar could not visit his studio. So, he tried out graphite drawings as they were the only art materials available to him. “The lockdown was a “blessing in disguise as I could give graphite drawings a shot,” he states.

Growing up, Makar Sankranti or Pongal was his favourite festival as the cattle at home got an artistic makeover. This fascination for all things creative got him interested in drawings as an expression of his thoughts. Interestingly, growing up amidst potters also allowed him to try his hands on the potter’s wheel. Touching the clay and creating sculptures was another thing that he loved.

At LS Raheja School of Art, Mumbai, he developed an interest in the academic subject of landscapes. He began drawing more landscapes at various times of the day––morning, noon and dusk. Later, to add variety to his work, he shifted his style from figurative to more colour-oriented works. After passing out of college in 1992, he realised that he enjoyed painting formless hued landscapes, and this became his style in his professional life as an artist. The time between twilight and dusk––when the daylight changes in a few nanoseconds––is his favourite time of the day. That means that every day is an inspiration to this artist.


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