Residing in Delhi since the last 15 years, Tejinder Kanda’s first major exhibition in the city is an impression of his travels throughout the country. Titled, Transmutation, or, Genetic Change, the exhibition depicts Kanda’s reversal in journey from print-making to painting. “Unlike most artists, I started with abstract prints for 10 years and then moved to figurative painting in 1996,” says the artist.
Growing up in a remote area called Batala near Amritsar, the young Kanda found the smell of the soil and the huge wooden doors fascinating. He loved watching his mother make utilitarian artifacts in paper-mache that were then used at home or sold in the market place. Kanda has tried to revisit and recreate these scenes in his paintings.
Travelling through the length and breadth of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, the Southern region and other parts of the country, the artist has tried to capture the local flavours of the streets and bylanes on his canvas. The cities of Amritsar and Batala, the ancient caves of Ajanta and Elora, the temples of Badami and Sanchi, the pilgrim cities of Vrindavan and Banaras, the hill towns of Chamba and Nainital, and the port cities of Mumbai and Kolkata, find a unique depiction in his paintings.
A fascination for the simplicity of life in the urban villages is reflected in Kanda’s imagery of the rickshaw pullers and street scenes. Gopurams, a recurring feature of Kanda’s repertoire, show his interest in architectural motifs. “Teji’s work is impressionist. It is realistic, but does not stop there. He takes the scenes from life and gives them his own twist and colour that leave an impression on your mind. The combination of old world charm and contemporary scenes, urban and rural life together is very captivating,” says Sushma Bahl, the curator of the exhibition.