Tarshito Nicola Strippoli
Tarshito Nicola Strippoli

The god of new worlds

Osho follower and Italian artist Tarshito Nicola Strippoli’s passion for indigenous art forms and spirituality is evident in his works on show in Delhi

Italian artist Tarshito Nicola Strippoli’s world is an embroidered fabric of humanity. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: The World is One Family could be India’s right wing slogan but Strippoli’s vision is an unique amalgamation of styles and materials, a world where India rubs shoulders with Romania in Walking in Bengal—a procession of figures executed in the Patua tradition.

Walking in Orissa echoes the tribal sensibilities of Warli and Gond that pepper the canvas in the form of trees. His geographical perspective is divergent and whimsical: Ghaziabad, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh become China on canvas, with the ‘Mahabharat Range’ flanking it, nonetheless. Italy is a combo of Jabalpur and Coimbatore. The essential artist’s incandescent arrogance is the freedom of reshaping the universe, which is exactly what the Italian maestro has done. He redraws borders to create a world of his own. Strippoli confesses, “I want to redesign Planet Earth.”

Strippoli’s own story is a travelogue of spiritual self-discoveries that is his art. Now 72 years old, he visited India for the first time in 1979. “I sailed from Italy to Greece and crossed Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan and Pakistan to reach India. I stayed in India for six months and fell in love with the Osho Ashram.” Then the young Italian wanderer was not interested in art; he had trained to be an architect.

His first meeting with Osho sparked his creativity. “Art bloomed within me. I began to seek the common root of all traditions. Through my travels in India, Mexico, China, I tried to discover what people have in common and what is the essence of humanity,” he says, adding as an afterthought, “During a conference, Osho had said, ‘…I don’t see why there should be so many tracks on geographical maps, the world has not been created divided into borders…’ Listening to these words opened up my vision and I began to paint and draw worlds without borders. So, a piece of India becomes Italy and then Brazil; it is a new world where all cultures mingle to achieve unity: One Land.”

Geurreiro D’Amore;
Geurreiro D’Amore;

Osho anointed Strippoli with the name ‘Tarshito’ which he proudly carries today. “I was reborn in 1979 in this country. India gave me a new beginning, a deep knowledge of life. Each time I come here, I learn something from every person I meet. The knowledge I gather sustains me when I’m painting at home in Bari, Italy. I like the variety and infinite wealth of the various expressions of art in India,” he smiles, tinkling the brass bell he always carries around with him.

Enriched by such experiential treasure, Strippoli has brought forth a surreal world where animals are sacred. “For example, tigers have very long tails which write wonderful words in the sky. Turtles carry not just their homes but also the house of the divine. Elephants haul temples. There are birds whose tails brings good news. Trees have fruits which are bells that ring in the brighter or divine parts of our selves. Some fruits are vessels opening upwards; empty and clean, ready to be filled with our spiritual essence. In this new land there is a new humanity,” he says, almost in a trance.

The universal concept of borderless-ness attracted him first to Indian tribal artists with whom he collaborates. “We all aspire to union and freedom,” he speculates. Till date, he has worked with over 25 traditional Indian art forms. It took over two decades and such collaborations to finish his present exhibition. What was the process like? “Working with indigenous artists evokes a strong emotion, because they remind me how the centre of my being is in the heart, not in the mind.

Tribal and indigenous artists have the knowledge of symbols and ritualism, which is both an ancient and futuristic sound with which I feel a deep connection. By working with indigenous art forms, I can understand the value of the earth and the relationship with the spiritual. Inspiration always comes from the divine,” elaborates Strippoli. With the humility of a successful artist he predicts, “My best is yet to come. In fact, every time I begin something new, I think this will be my most loved work.” In his internal quest for the best, he is a herald of new beginnings.

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