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Gallery Beyond - The contemporary art gallery
contemporary art gallery

Gallery Beyond

Gallery Beyond
Yashwant Shirwadkar View Gallery 

Born in Mumbai, finished G.D.Art (Drawing & Painting) Maharashtra in 1977. Has held 70 solo shows all over India. In Mumbai from 1977, 78, 79, 80, 81,82, 83,85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 04, and sponsored shows in 1988, 92, 93, 95, 2000, 03, 04 & 06 at Gallery Beyond Mumbai. In Ahmedabad sponsored show in 2001 & 05. In Bangalore sponsored shows in 1981, 93,95,96,97,98,99 & 2002. In Benaras sponsored show in 1993. In Chennai sponsored shows in 1991,92,93,94,2002,02,05. In Delhi 1983 & sponsored shows in 1990,93,96,99,2002,02,03,06. In Gurgoan sponsored show in 2006. Jaipur sponsored shows in 1999 & 2002. In Kolkata sponsored show in 1994. In France sponsored show in 1986. Has had sponsored shows in Pune in 2003 & 2004 and Baroda in 2004. Has held Two Man shows in Bangalore in 1981,82,83; Chennai 1983; Delhi 1982, 1984; Jaipur sponsored show in 2005; Kolkata 1979; Mumbai 1974,1981,1982,1983 & sponsored two man shows in 1995,2000,& 2003; Pune sponsored show in 2002. Has held Two Man shows abroad in France sponsored show in 1985; in Switzerland sponsored show in 1985 & West Germany in 1985. Has participated in Group shows in: 1985 at Ahmednagar; sponsored show in Ahmedabad in 2005; in Bangalore in 1984 and sponsored shows twice in 2000; Chennai in sponsored shows in 1996,97,98, twice in 1999, 2000, 2001,2002, twice in 2004 & 2005 & 1985,97,& 99; Cochin sponsored show in 1993; Dabhol sponsored show in 1999; Delhi Thrice in 1986 and sponsored shows in 1984,1997, twice in 2000 & 2004; Gurgoan sponsored show in 2004; Hyderabad sponsored show in 1997; Kolkata sponsored group shows in 1995, 1997,1999 & 2000; Mumbai 1978,86,88,89, sponsored shows from 1978 to 2006; Nasik sponsored show in 1999; Nepal sponsored show in 1981; Pune 1985, sponsored shows in 1995,98,2000, twice in 2001, thrice in 2002, 2004 & 2005; Parbhani 1985; Thane sponsored show in 1982; Baroda sponsored show in 2005. Has participated in numerous group shows abroad: sponsored show in 1991 at Belgium; in 2005 at Bangkok; Dubai sponsored shows thrice in 2001 and twice in 2002; sponsored shows in London in 1985, 1990, twice in 1991, 1992,1997 and twice again in 2000; in Mauritius sponsored show in 2000 & 2002; Singapore sponsored shows in 2000 & 2006; USA sponsored shows in 1989,1990,1997,1999 and twice in 2002; in West Germany sponsored shows in 1986,1987,1988,1989, twice in 1990, 1991 & 1992. He has traveled around India, Nepal, West Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, England, USA & England. He has attended the Juneja Art Gallery sponsored artist camp in Jaipur in 2005. He regularly participates in most of the Major Art Exhibitions and Art activities throughout India and Abroad like the Monsoon Show sponsored by Jehangir Art Gallery in 1978 & 1981; in Kala Mela New Delhi in 1986; Sotheby’s Auction in 1998 & Christies Auction in 2001 & 2002; Charity Auctions: in Pune organized by Studio S and Gallery Art Resource Trust in 2001 & in 2004 Charity Auction organized by Grant a Smile Foundation of India & India Art Gallery and Concern Annual Charity Auctions in 2001, 2002, 2005 & 2006. Has participated in the Golden Jubilee Year exhibition of the Jehangir Art Gallery in 2002. His paintings are in many private collections in India and abroad. He lives and works in Mumbai.

In the bucolic idylls that Yashwant Shirwadkar paints, the landscapes are picture postcard perfect. At first you are taken in by the sheer prettiness of it all. It is lush and luminescent, capturing with impressionistic fervour, nature at its photogenic best. The Kashmir paintings are ethereal and lovely swathed in blue-grey mist, his Benaras works brim with the timeless energy of the Ghats and the languorous Kettuvellams snaking down the sensuous backwaters of Kerala offer the utopia of sea spray and serendipity: the paradise to which we all want to escape to.

This simplicity however, is quite deceptive. The undulating shorefronts and verdant abundance are a ploy to get you into a deeper level of viewing. If you tarry a while, new and unexpected landscapes feather within his canvas and the empty beauty recedes to give way for a more sumptuous fare. The seemingly facile view deepens into keen insights, of places and people and recoups the essence, the subtle flavours and ambience that often escape the ordinary traveler.

It is quite evident that Shirwadkar loves to travel, and is drawn to places of the usual tourist interest, but the similarity with the stereotyped, camcorder- carrying tourist ends there. Shirwadkar is hardly looking at facades; he reacts to the underlying, unspoken subtexts and cross currents that nourish the topography. He responds to the odd quirks, the little whimsical detail, rumours of the past and the myth and lore, all the things that lend a city its character and historical identity. He is the indefatigable traveler, seeking from a place not just its physical offerings of beauty, its monuments or its natural abundance but the inscrutable elements of the mystical, individual truths that each of us seek as voyagers of the cosmos. His works are much more than mere postcards and there is enough to suggest that he is on a much longer journey.

Take an image as familiar as the Ghats at Benaras. We’ve seen these a countless times previously. But when Shirwadkar invites us to view them as he does, a slow enchantment descends upon the scene. In one of these works, an early winter sun rises obliquely above a high wall near the Ghats. A vendor appears to prepare for the day, a woman steps down tentatively but what really catches our attention amidst these commonplace images, is the soft luminosity of the winter sun. We are drawn to it, as if we would be to a personal photograph and an indelible memory is created by that small detail. It is in these and similar images that Shirwadkar is able to turn run of the mill, travelogue-like images into works of interest.

In his paintings, the landscape is the centre point of attention. It surges ahead with force and a startling sense of immediacy. Inside the canvas, the past and the present, ideas, people and monuments and nature meld to form a fecund world where boundaries are seamless. The temple pond and the devout bather converge, the pilgrim and reveler, the tree and the mist, palm shores and boats mingle: it is hard to tell where the borders begin and where they end. But it hardly matters, for it is not any one single facet or the idea in the canvas that it is significant. The landscape is being celebrated in a festival of colour, ebullience and light and each entity within it fetes the other.

The sense of immediacy is hard to miss. He uses the canvas like a lens and his paintings have a photo-journalistic feel, trying to freeze the sights and sounds of an eternity into minutes.

A lot is happening on his canvas. It is usually bustling with activity and we get a feel of the imminent, as if we are about to witness events just about to unfurl upon the canvas. In the Kerala series, for instance, you find that in a single canvas the eye flits from the river, to the men fishing, to women at work, from palm fronds hunched forward to a sky looming low. There is none of the tidy order that we expect from a conventional landscape painter.

The inherent paradox in his work, ignites an intriguing kinesis. The imagery is not new; most of them are 'done to death' scenes straight out of tourist brochures. But he kindles our curiosity with those unpredictable twists and tales, replete with casual humour to create those romantic and “the fugitive effects “ that Monet talked about.

His painterly eye is enhanced by a flair for storytelling, as we see so evidently in his Kerala series. Images of Kettuvellams gliding down glistening backwaters are ubiquitous, thanks to the astute packaging of tourism. But in Shirwadkar’s rendition of Kerala, anecdotes and cameos pepper his canvas and change the scene completely.

Amidst the shimmering turquoise waters, a houseboat glides under leafy green palms and suddenly brightly coloured washing hung between two palm trunks waylay your vision. The prosaic spectacle of clothes hung out to dry gives this perfect paradise a deliciously personal feel. You are curious to know more about those who live behind that picture of perfection. They would be ordinary faceless people eking out a living the hard way.

By deconstructing seemingly perfect imagery, taking apart the conventional format of the viewing and reformatting them for us, Shirwadkar makes us take a relook. The choice of places he paints is not an accident, they are views visited and revisited by the hoi polloi, by everybody. He seems to be saying that we all run through life in much the same way. Skimming through clichés, creating and recreating fantasias, we would like to visit briefly but would never want to live in.

By delineating the ideas of beauty and the banal, we keep our sense of splendour alive. We aspire to live briefly in those moments of ephemeral loveliness. Shirwadkar suggests that our response to things beautiful are heightened because our everyday lives are moored to the world of mediocre imagery. Shirwadkar plays with the established notions of beauty, its fragile transience and by interspersing an element of the mundane in it , he plays with our sensibilities.

The impressionist’s fixation for lighting and the perfect illumination occupies his canvas. Very often, he paints similar landscapes in different lighting. We are treated to an array of incandescent paintings that create a mood and poignancy that is touching. In a bazaar scene in Kerala, we find the customary bustle of a bazaar missing. There are few people sauntering in and out, shops seem to be enveloped in a somnolent stupor .It does not take long to discover the lengthened slant of a late afternoon sun. The bazaar is painted under a four o clock sun; siesta time in tropical Kerala and the air of slumber hangs low on the painting.

If lighting is used to enhance emotion and mood, colour in his work is used to navigate a range of meaning. Bright and rich hues are evocative and lustrous. . They accentuate the air of celebration that most of his works exude. The short brush strokes and use of the palette knife also add to the vim of movement. The canvas is nourished with energy, colour, a sense of fun and joy.

Shirwadkar is not the archetypal traveler. He moves through various landscapes absorbing its energies, enjoying the journey, much more than the destination. He likes to paint his pictures with that twist of the uncharacteristic. By depicting a plastic paradise with just that little bit imperfection his landscapes remain with us. “Nowhere, beloved does any world exist save that within. “ wrote Rilke in the Duino Elegias. The idea is reinforced in these landscapes on Kerala.
MANJU P PILLAI December’06

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