To the uninitiated, the 20-odd acrylic artworks at an art gallery in central Delhi might just appear as playful brushstrokes, but for those close to the artist, they might represent the subconscious pain and pathos of leaving one’s homeland.
For Srinagar-born septuagenarian artist AK Raina, who feels uprooted from his homeland in Kashmir, painting canvases seem like the only way to express his subconscious yearning to return and touch one’s birthplace in a symbolic or rather cathartic act or a way to give vent to his inner frustration in a chromatic avatar, unconsciously. “I do not try to define my work, that’s why all the works displayed here are untitled. I also do not consciously move my paintbrush, so all you see is my subconscious mind delving into my experiences in Kashmir. But, let me tell you, I’ll not go back to Kashmir now. We can’t be entering our own homes like thieves,” says Raina. The 75-year-old painter’s latest exhibition titled, Exile, 23 Years, which opened in the city last week, marks the artist’s return to the canvas after many years.
“These works are a collection of some of my paintings after my 2005 exhibition with a few recent ones,” he says. “Even though I do not try to show something through strokes and colours, the pain of being uprooted from our home does surface on the canvas, but I don’t know how, because I paint, I just paint with spontaneity,” adds Raina. Asked if he would ever go back to Kashmir or feels the desire to, the painter reiterates an expression borrowed from Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that “apne hi ghar main choron ki tarah nahin ghusna hai” (We don’t want to enter our own house like thieves).” “I don’t want to go to Kashmir as a tourist. I will not go there even if they invite me for an exhibition. I now live in Indore with my son, so that is my home. And in Delhi, I have no peace here. Apart from meeting my friends I feel horrible here. So, you see, I’m in permanent state of exile for the last 23 years, I belong nowhere,” says the artist, who however has to shuttle between Indore and Noida regularly for work.
Catch it here
What: Exile, 23 years
On till: April 20
Timing: 11am to 7pm, Sunday closed
Where: Dhoomimal Gallery, G-42, Connaught Place
NEAREST METRO STATION: Rajiv Chowk on the Yellow Line