Spirituality Extracted Out of the Void of Life

Paintings of Paramesh Paul

 Mrinal Ghosh

Through his landscapes and cityscapes Paramesh Paul touching the core of deeper realty tries to expound a spiritual sensibility. Spirituality bordering round traditional religious feelings is the essence of his art. In that sense his paintings have a greater purpose. Through his works he analyses and investigates life, looks deeper into the relation of people with nature, with religious emotion and how ordinary people transcend themselves from the bondage of day to day mundane existence and project themselves towards a higher spiritual ideal. For this purpose Paramesh very often takes up the religious centers of the country as his subject. He is greatly in love with Benaras. Haridwar, Hrishikesh and other religious places also appear very often in his paintings. He has also a predilection for looking at the life around river. Water appears as a dominant theme in his painting, specially the river Ganges. This particular river is greatly associated with the religious and spiritual sentiments of the people of India. Through this river flows the tradition of the country from the ancient time to the present. The association of the people with this river since the time immemorial is something of devotion, awe and ovation through which they can surpass the burden of earthly existence towards a spiritual feeling. This is the reason for which the celebrated artists from our country and abroad have always felt a great zeal to paint Benaras and the river ‘Ganga’ associated with it. From Husain, Manu Parekh, Ganesh Haloi to many other artists of younger generation have worked with this city and the river associated with it with a sense of spiritual reverence in some part of their life. Satyajit Roy’s film like ‘Aparajito’ has shown the religious and social implications of this city and river with the flowing life and tradition of our country. Paramesh Paul in his Benaras series of paintings has connected himself with this tradition. He has tried to reach the core of the country and the essence of spirituality through these paintings.

But he is never limited within Benaras and religious sites only. He paints with equal zeal and interest the city of Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Through these cityscapes also he enters deeper into the life and the various cults of the people. The dense population, the dingy environs of these business oriented towns, where streets are encroached by the business community, where traffic jams are daily routine, where people always gets themselves accustomed to the rush, dirt and lack of adequate space and project this spatial narrowness in their day to day living, appear as the content of his paintings, which in turn determines his form. This is not all. Paramesh has shown the brilliance of his human sensibility and social commitment when he has painted Mumbai after the terrorist violence of 26 November 2008. These paintings may be called his masterpieces. Here along with his skill for naturalistic depiction of architectural sites he has entered into the darkened void of reality. He has transformed light into the darkness and shown how the darkness has engulfed all the light and positive sensibility of human existence. These paintings are mostly delineated in black and white. There is however slight tinge of other chromatic exposures, but they also highlight the monochromatic gravity of the tragic despair. Where as in his ordinary colourful cityscapes his forms revolve round naturalism associated with an impressionist environment, in these paintings depicting the crudity of inhumanity he heightens naturalism with an expressionist tragic consciousness, some times bordering round a surrealist environment. He shows a deeper feeling and understanding of life with a very skill, sensitive and very original formal structure.

As already mentioned forms of Paul revolve round naturalism. He does not go into much of formal jugglery. He tries that his painting should be easily communicable to ordinary people, would arouse an awareness of the life around them and induce them towards a religious and spiritual sensibility. In this project he is very successful. But within his naturalistic rendering there is some sort of twist and distortion bordering round impressionistic sobriety. In his forms, it may be said, he has amalgamated naturalism with impressionism. His works are, no doubt, subjective and grows out of his very personal love for this life. He avoids objectivity of pure naturalism by inserting in it some sort of formal simplification derived from impressionism. But it should also be specifically mentioned, he is not an impressionist to the core. And also as we have mentioned earlier, in certain cases his naturalist renderings get greater depth through expressionist inwardness. Naturalism since its introduction in our art field through British academic school during 1850-s has made great impact in further development of our art and has gradually transformed in various ways according to the necessity of development of our social and temporal reality being assimilated with various other formal structures. It has not yet exhausted its possibility and probably will not in near or distant future. But pure naturalism is now out dated. Even in photograph naturalism is diluted towards various sorts of abstraction to arrive at a painterly aesthetics. Paul though inculcates naturalism he does not keep himself limited within it. Through idealization and inclusion of spirituality he often comes nearer to the search for indigenous identity of neo-Indian school, which is obviously not very prominent, but very subtly reflected in his delineation.

Paramesh Paul is a self taught painter without any academic training, which has yielded some positive element in his works. He has easily been able to surpass the limit of strict academic norms and develop his forms according to his own inner sensibility. His use of colour and spatial composition is something different from the conventional ways of rendering and gets him the flavor of originality. He is a prolific painter and works with an eye on nature and fixing the other eye on life and higher values of life. He was born in 1970 in a traditional potter family in a rural environment of West Bengal. He acquired an artistic inclination from his family heritage. The experience of being associated with the art and craft of pottery and building up of clay images of Durga and other gods and goddesses since his childhood has induced in him a sculptural sensibility. When he paints cityscapes he pays adequate attention towards three dimensional structural and architectural elements. In his paintings of Benaras his delineation of the architecture of temples, the rising wharf or ghats from inside the water towards the shore above creates a special aesthetic feeling due to its three dimensional geometrical structure. This sharp geometrical display makes his naturalistic rendering very much poignant with visual pleasure and grandeur.  The rural environment in which he was born and grew up induced in him a love for nature and life. During his early career he has worked for ten years in International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Mayapur of West Bengal, which inspired him towards a spiritual sensibility. Later on his experience of living in big cities gave him the realization of complexity of modern life. All these elements have been infused in him to generate his own forms and expressions. He has learnt a lot from the void of life, from the pleasures and pains of existential dilemma generated out of poverty and humble living and used them towards his own creativity.

By | 2018-02-05T09:23:01+00:00 February 5th, 2018|artist|