Berlin-based artist Allen Shaw considers Kutch to be his spiritual home. His first solo show features watercolour sketches of the region.
For many, travelling is a way of life. But while travellers nowadays choose to document their experiences with a camera, some, like Allen Shaw, are more old-school. The artist and animator carries his sketchbook everywhere and when inspired, creates pen and watercolour paintings to immortalise special moments. Now, you can view a collection of 30 watercolour illustrations at The Kutch Pilgrimage, Shaw’s first solo exhibition in the city. The artworks are an ode to the place the artist considers home and to the inhabitants of the Rabari tribe, whom he considers to be his brethren.
Born in Munger, Bihar, Shaw studied at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. A graduate in communication design, his specialisation is in animation film-making. The artist moved to Germany in 2008 and today, he trots the globe and maintains visual diaries.
Shaw’s journeys have taken him to the Himalayan range in Leh, the rice fields of Wajima in Japan, the small islands of Croatia and the forgotten towns of Slovakia. But Kutch remains the only place he finds himself returning to. “The first thing that struck me on my maiden visit was that time has remained still here and the locals have preserved their culture for all these years. There’s something ‘constant’ about Kutch,” he says.
Shaw’s love affair with Kutch started 20 years ago (1995) when he went there as a young design student to study village communities for Kala Raksha, a Kutch-based organisation that works to preserve traditional crafts. “Since then, it’s been a pilgrimage each time I have gone back. The people and their beautiful crafts stand in stark contrast to the barren landscapes. It has inspired my gypsy soul for years,” says Shaw. His collection of paintings denotes two decades of memories, experiences and stories.
As for the medium he has chosen, Shaw likens watercolours to “naughty children”. “You want to have them in your control but you don’t mind if they misbehave. It’s a dynamic medium unlike oil or acrylic which are static. It needs attention and one has to react fast to it. This nature pulls me to the medium. It’s also a fast, portable medium, perfect for a travelling gypsy like me,” he says.”
The Kutch Pilgrimage - Watercolors by Allen Shaw is on till March 26, 11am to 7pm
At ARTISANS’, Dr V B Gandhi Marg, Rhythm House lane, Kala Ghoda