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Spiritual strokes

art and culture Updated: Jul 26, 2011 18:40 IST
Shobhita Narain
Shobhita Narain
Hindustan Times
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An artist whose style had remained constant since the beginning of his career, the late Sohan Qadri often found peace in his sole subject, transcendence through spiritualism. Now, Tao Art Gallery is exhibiting his most recent collection of dye-infused work, Lush And Transcendent, completed over the span of his last three years. Greatly influenced by Buddhism and Sufism, his work focuses on rhythmic movements of colours through repeating patterns of dots.

In the past too, popular cultural icons like the Surrealist Magritte and Nobel Laureate Heinrich Böll, have been left amazed by the mystic artist’s devotion to the cause of communicating with the Almighty through his art. “Unlike other artists, my father was not burdened with the effort of creating a piece of art. It came from an inner peace within him,” reflects Purvi, Qadri’s daughter. When asked to recollect a fond memory of her father, she says, “I still imagine myself listening to interesting stories on his voyages abroad, the childhood he spent in Punjab and funny incidents in college. He had a great sense of humour.”

Though Qadri lived in Copenhagen for 30 years and enjoyed much acclaim in the US and Scandinavia, the artist drew inspiration for his works from his native village in Punjab. The vibrant colours he employed like rich peacock blues, bright saffrons, Sindhoori crimson and tinges of blacks, created a canvas of spiritual passion that he described as “universal and one for all life”.

And what significance did Qadri’s paintings hold for Purvi? “I value all of his paintings. Even now, when I see the small sketches he used to make, I can feel the calmness he radiated. A single line or dot he painted held the same message for me — a total dedication to God and love for others,” says Purvi. Referring to his manner of working, she adds, “He would start a painting almost spontaneously. He would say that the empty canvas had a painting within it, he just needed to extract it.”