She always had a way with colours. This was noticed when she entered the College of Art, Chandigarh. She was comely as they came and students and teachers alike would look from her to her canvas and say: “Not only is she beautiful, she also wields a beautiful brush.”
This is Jaskanwal Kaur, a student of the 1979 batch. Many students remember her as the dedicated teacher who gave an artistic touch to their lives. To friends and contemporary artists, she is Jas who chose, as some would say, the hard way of life but who managed to come out of the long tunnel of struggle in joyous repose. Her canvas reflect her calm: one look at them will tell you that the artist is her most meditative mood. “I have never had to go outside to a meditation class: my work has always been my meditation” says the artist and you immediately know it’s true.
Her transparency reflects in her work, which, away from the trappings of an urban life, portrays nature in its most tranquil form.
“Although very much a city girl, I enjoyed field trips to neighbouring villages as a student: in these places, I could enjoy nature in its truest forms. I loved painting the umbrella-like wild mushrooms that grow on their own and are untouched by artificial arrangements.”This, she says, is unlike our lives.
“There is much around us that is artificial, even marriage,” she says with candour.
Jas is also fascinated with trees and the earth which she compares to women for their quality of nurturing and tolerance.
Jas herself has been nurturing and tolerant through the many trials and tribulations of her life, an imprint of which remains as much on the delicate skin of her chiseled face as in the landscape she paints. Jas uses the archetypal tapering road of the meadows, moving from earth to the heavens, in her paintings and then bedecks it with trees, flowers, mushrooms or birds chirping in glee. There much joy in her work, but some contemplation as well and Jas gently moves from one phase of life to the other, embracing even the rough and tumble that it may throw at her.
“I have no complaints with my life. If it has given me some lows, it has brought many highs too. I have lived and loved and also been loved. What more could one ask for?”
(The writer is a prominent art and culture critic.)