Sunday, May 19, 2013

An abstractionist driven by a deep rooted, esoteric worldview

Rightfully considered one among India's best abstractionists, G. R. Santosh attained fame for his marvelously mystical paintings that unfolded the secrets of one of our closely followed philosophies not only within the country but also internationally.There was a silent streak of self-introspection evident in his paintings, which at times, revolved around the theme of chronic, inexpressible loneliness that enveloped modern man. His landscape, as if, depicted the vicissitudes of heart rather than finer points of any geographical region.

Born in 1929 to a modest middle-class family in Srinagar, G. R. Santosh hardly had any orientation in art. He had once recounted that he indulged in sketching and drawing from early childhood years. Inspired by the beauty and nature around, he took to a little landscape series, doing several of them before moving onto other art forms and evolving his own unique style.

Circumstances, as he had rewound back in an interview, forced the artist to search for odd jobs such as silk weaving, sign board painting, and even white washing walls to see himself through the tough times after his father’s death. Interestingly, he initially achieved name as a skilful papier-mâché artist.

The struggle for survival allowed him no luxury to focus on art, but he did not give up. It was long though, before he could turn his love for art into practice and take formal lessons in it. The talented painter finally was able to pursue his passion after he won the government scholarship in 1954.

He joined Faculty of Fine Arts at M.S. University in Baroda, where he studied under painter N. S. Bendre. And as luck would have it, he soon joined the much-celebrated Progressive Arts Association in Kashmir, soon after India’s Independence, formed at a nudge from S H Raza.  He showed his work at many galleries across the country as a leading member of the well-established art association.

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