Painting a portrait is not just getting the physical likeness of a person on paper, canvas, stone or what have you, it is going beyond the face to bring in something of the soul. Oscar Wilde had said that every portrait painted with feeling is that of the painter and not the model. Well, don’t they say that the famous Monalisa actually resembles Leonardo da Vinci. Closer home they say that painter Sobha Singh was his own model for the serene pictures of the gurus. Also, a human face is likely to be treated differently by different artists.
The art of portraiture, be it that of the sitter or that of the self, is an engaging area. Recently, one got to see the portraiture by two young artists of the Scud Studio at Siswan and it still lingers in the mind. One of them is Narinder Moud, from Mauran village near Sangrur who brings a rare passion and detail to the portraits he sketches with a simple ball-point pen. This intense interpretation is carried forward to portraits painted on canvas.
Interestingly, Moud supported himself in his college days by sketching out in the open for a nominal price. “In my days at the local College of Art, I was the first artist to be allowed to sketch for a modest fee ranging from `300 to 500 in the Rock Garden.” Being young and prolific, he would not just earn his daily bread but art material too. Later in hotels in Delhi, another zero was added to the remuneration and people happily posed for him shelling out the sum for their portraits.
Moving from portraiture to self-portraiture is a fresh challenge and sculptor Mandeep Maan is doing it with assurance. Among his other sculptures, displayed on the Siswan studio terrace, are two self-portraits sculpted in black and white marble. Working with a realistic approach in the look-alikes he manages to imbibe in them a rhythm and energy that are very much a part of his lithe form. “I make my maquette with a pen on paper and then I move onto the three dimensions of the sculpture,” says
Maan. An artist’s endeavour always is to look beyond the face value be it either in realism or in abstraction. So, one waits and watches the works of these artists in times to come as they may move to the conceptual or the abstract in expressing themselves. The promise in their work predicts that the wait will be worth its while.