Brushstrokes inspired by the Tricolour, marking the journey of Independence, and ahead
The national award-winning artist is showcasing his solo exhibition as part of “Freedom @75 (Rajatva)” at Vesavar Art Gallery on East Street, his first show in the city
PUNE While all take pride in the flag and the anthem of the nation of their birth, many use it for inspiration, to remain grounded, to know its heritage and roots, and some become means to let others know that they are the sons and daughters of the mother country.
The government’s initiative to commemorate 75 years of Independence as “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” was just another opportunity for the Chennai-based artist Bhagwan Chavan, 65, to use his brush to celebrate his nationality.
The national award-winning artist is showcasing his solo exhibition as part of “Freedom @75 (Rajatva)” at Vesavar Art Gallery on East Street, his first show in the city. A long way from his life’s first exhibition “Monsoon Show” at Jehangir Art Gallery in 1983. He uses oils, acrylics and water colours as medium for his abstract paintings.
The first exhibition of “Freedom@75”, a tribute to 75 years of India’s Independence, was organised at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath Art Gallery in Bengaluru in August 2022 followed by Chennai’s Alliance Francaise of Madras Gallery in February 2023.
While Chavan has expressed his thoughts on 75 canvasses, marking the years of Independence and completed in over two years, 51 are on display at Vesavar Art Gallery. “I want the viewer to engage, contemplate and interpret my works based on personal experiences. I look forward to a profound and subjective connection with the observer through my works,” said the painter, whose Sir J. J. School of Art batchmates include late Vijay Shinde, the Sholapur-born artist from Maharashtra who had also shifted from portraits and figurative works to non-representational works.
Both are recipients of the national award by Lalit Kala Akademy.
“For me, Rajatva, the Hindi word related to raja or king, means freedom with responsibility,” he said.
A visit to Gandhi Sevagram Ashram in Maharashtra’s Wardha and the National Tricolour inspired Chavan to explore his artistic licence with the responsibility of keeping it within the rectangular boundary of the flag, two by three feet.
“Every Indian should have the freedom to take responsibility for own actions given the limitations. It embodies a sense of mastery and control. I used the bright colours of our flag — saffron, white, green and blue — to express the struggles, pain, toil, defiance, unity of the freedom movement, and the developments post-Independence. It was a personal constraint, willingly accepted, that paralleled the dedication and self-imposed boundaries shared by those who serve our country,” said Chavan, whose studio is at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, near Chennai.
“August 15, 1947, is etched in our memories as a day of freedom. My work is a celebration of this freedom, an artistic interpretation that goes beyond mere symbolism. It embodies the essence of the freedom struggle and the Gandhian philosophy of Swaraj, Swadeshi, and Satyagraha, which laid the foundation for our nation’s aesthetic way of life,” he said.
Reflecting on his journey with the brush, Chavan said, “I wanted to convey something distinctive, and when faced with a creative block, I drew inspiration from our nation’s transformation since gaining independence. I questioned whether our freedom fighters or soldiers ever considered giving up midway. I needed to encapsulate that indomitable spirit within myself, and so, I persevered and created 75 abstracts.”
The collection also portrays his lifelong fascination with nature; art emanating from childhood memories of swaying trees, their reflection in the water, midnight walks etc.
About his Pune connection, Chavan said, “I often visit the city to meet the family and friends of Shinde as I am working on a publication to document and celebrate his works.”
With artificial intelligence and machine learning turning almost everyone into an artist-in-the-making, Chavan said, “Creativity can only come from one’s originality, and nothing can replace it.”
The solo exhibition is open at Vesavar Art Gallery on East Street till January 3, 2024.
When: 10.30 am to 7.30 pm, till January 3, 2024
Where: Vesavar Art Gallery, MG Pune Central, East Street, Pune
For more information, visit www.vesavar.com