- Padma Jayaraj
Photos courtesy the artists
February 12, 2013
THREE GENERATIONS at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, (22nd to 28th Jan 2013) documents the footprints of a family of artists along the shores of changing times. The exhibition records the history of painting in independent India, both in theme and form.
The Choyals based in Udaipur, began their journey as traditional painters with miniscule detailing of the pictorial aesthetics reminiscent of the paintings of Rajasthan. P.N. Choyal painted canvasses that portrayed landscapes. And the people of Rajasthan came alive in their humdrum routines. A product of J.J. School, he changed his focus when pained by the divisive forces that marred social harmony that destroyed the ethos of placid life. For, violence in modern, independent India brought back an age old rivalry which would be regressive to the nation at large. The anguish of the artist is evident in his works.
Shail Choyal, the second generation, is trained as a painter and studied printmaking as well. His strength also springs from tradition, although he moves in time to absorb abstract expressions. Thematically, there is a palpable shift from the outer to the inner world. His chromatic forays narrate dramatic tension through juxtapositions of the real and the abstract. The stamp of the romantic-spiritual in traditional art continues in his Krishna themes.
Surjeet Kaur, a post graduate in painting is married to Shailesh. She has a distinct personality as an artist. Inspired by portraitures of the princely states of Rajasthan, she has focused on the women of the region rooted in its social and cultural milieu. The women, like the puppet tradition in art, are still orchestrated by a culture steeped in habit and custom. Her paintings unravel her psycho-thematic concerns as an artist.
Akash Choyal, their son, stands for the present generation. A Master of Fine Arts, the artist’s perceptions are shaped by Indian thinking, especially its spiritual moorings. But it has taken a different mode of expression. The contours of modern technology marks his three dimensional creations. As an artist, he goes into deeper layers to unravel hidden truths by restructuring realities. The objective reality is splintered to expose the concealed and the unknown. The walking human figure shows the movement of the entire body as if in automated motion. Perhaps, inherited from his father’s love, the Krishna theme surfaces in the realm of Akash Choyal too. But for him it is the expression of unheard melody that soars beyond its traditional confines. His ‘Elephant’ is the manifestation of the power of the gentle beast.
Innocence colours his perceptions, an innocence without any pretensions. “I wanted to make a key for a long time. And, one day it was just there!” said Akash with the smile of a boy filled with the joy of making a toy. Akash, as his name suggests, gives a feeling of space with his black lines against white, in three-dimensional reality. It is as if he had handed over his chromatic palette to his wife, Charul Laul, a theatre artist, whose symphonies in colourful designs depict the harmony and peace in the heart of the family.
Akash Choyal, the promise of this family, is trying to etch out his emotional response as he confronts the real and the unreal, in a mood of creative trance, a state of dream in which humans, beasts, plants, heavenly bodies, superhuman powers and human weaknesses all fit into their assigned places...soaring into the philosophical heights of aham brahmasmi.
‘The three generations’ traverse through the deeper and darker layers of the Indian psyche submerged in the sub-continent bounded by the boundless seas – the darkness in its social and political realms and soars to its mystical heights.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer on the arts and travel. She is a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com