Monday, July 22, 2013

An artist inspired by his own tumultuous life

Born in 1939 in Siraha in the neighboring Nepal, Laxman Shreshtha grew up in Darbhanga district in the state of Bihar. After securing a degree at the University of Patna, the aspiring artist moved to Mumbai to join the Sir J.J School of Art where he did a diploma in painting (1957 -62).

Later he went to Europe to further hone his skills at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris followed by a stint at London’s Central School of Art (1970). During this crucial phase, he spent some fruitful time at the Academie Grande Chaumiere as well as S.W. Hayter’s Atelier 17, Paris (1964-67) apart from undertaking a study tour to Baltimore and San Francisco in 1971.

The observant practitioner’s oeuvre is intricately bound with the happenings in his life and takes a cue from intense intellectual and emotional churning he has underwent and struggle that he has made earlier. His engaging journey as an aristocratic family’s member to a faceless student almost facing starvation set him on a spiritual sojourn that has found an echo in his art.

He turned to Western philosophy, Upanishads and also Buddhism for solace and answers to his prolonged existentialist dilemma. His evolution as an artist has reflected these experiences. Many of his paintings depicted beautiful places he has visited like a series inspired by the Himalayan ranges. They carry the captivating colors of light, those of brilliance he has observed in the picturesque landscapes. In his recent landscapes, he has made use of geometrics and lots of white.

Among the contemporary painters from India, he has been associated with VS Gaitonde, MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta, and Akbar Padamsee, who inadvertently influenced him as an individual and as an artist. He was also influenced by Cezanne (his masterly treatment of space, Gaugain's simplified usage of color and the skill of composition); Van Gogh’s life, his letters sent to his brother and his paintings.

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