The Clouds of Bhanwar Singh Panwar: Previewing ‘Roop’ Exhibition with the Veteran Artist

A recipient of numerous state awards, veteran artist Bhanwar Singh Panwar – here in Ahmedabad for an exhibition on ‘Roop’, i.e. forms and images – speaks about the influence of other artists in his life, and about why art is ‘imaginative’ rather than ‘abstract’.

“If a child can imagine elephants and trees within an amorphous cloud, then why have we restricted our perspective in accepting the indistinct as a free form of art?” asked artist Bhanwar Singh Panwar as we started talking about his beautiful paintings. Quoted as being ‘imaginative’ rather than ‘abstract’, he explained about his art, “Music or literature can be abstract, but I believe art is imaginative because calling it abstract can snatch away its freedom of expression.” The artist hails from Jarau village, located in the lap of the Aravalli ranges of Rajasthan. Since early days, nature inspired his aesthetics exhaustively. He described this, saying, “Even the flattest or the most aptly shaped forms of nature have some independent forms that play a major role in giving them that physical property of perfection if one observes them vigilantly.”

Bhanwar Singh Panwar in an involved discussion with CY author Himanshu Nainani
Bhanwar Singh Panwar in an involved discussion with CY author Himanshu Nainani

Panwar moved to Ahmedabad in 1955 and initiated his creative career with painter Kanaiyalal Yadav, who encouraged him to participate in street and live paintings. “Earlier, Yadav Sir always took me to sketch the gushing and dancing Babools of the Sabarmati and the bravest buffalos of Junagadh which were, believe me, braver than the ferocious lions of the Gir,” he described. Panwar later joined the Practicing Painters of Ahmedabad group started by Shree Maansingh Chaara, who was also the founder member of the group Progressive Painters of Ahmedabad. Nourished under the mentorship of Chaara, Panwar learned the aesthetics of figurative drawing. His earlier works from 1965-70 included figures ranging from water-fetching Vanjaarans to Shepherds migrating with their flocks of goats; but since he was extremely inspired by the solid imagery painting style of the pioneering modern artist of Gujarat, Shree Jeram Patel, Panwar began to experiment with his imagination. In 1970, Panwar became inclined towards using independent lines to define figures. He began contributing not just subjective, but even objective elements within his paintings. His idea of using lines to define the idea of a painting created wonders for him up till the late 70s and, in the meanwhile, he started cultivating a greater bond with Patel and his aesthetics. In early 80s, Panwar tried his hand at contemporary art, wherein he started layering colours on canvas freely. When asked about the inspirations behind his vibrant colour combinations today, Panwar commented, “Did Tulsidas ever count the number of words while writing the Ramcharitmanas? Then why does an artist have to define his palette?”

Veteran artist Bhanwar Singh Panwar

After holding numerous solo shows across India, Panwar has again come back to his roots in Ahmedabad for his latest solo show titled ‘Roop’ – which means form/image in Hindi – at the Marvel Art Gallery. The show will be on a display from January 30, 2017, to February 4, 2017, from 12:00 PM to 07:00 PM. He has come up with a remarkable concept of creating a backdrop on canvas for every painting, “I use different sizes of cloth, dip them in liquid colours and then spread them on to the canvas randomly. I use layers of colours to make texture, without deliberately amalgamating them.” The versatile artist is also a writer and recently contributed his literature in the form of a script for a movie based on the life of his late friend Jeram Patel.

Veteran artist Bhanwar Singh Panwar

As an audience, if you are planning to visit the show, make sure you don’t try too hard to find a meaning within the art because, beyond painting, the artist believes art to be a creation. Go therefore, instead, as a naturist who simply adores the beauty of a flower, without trying too hard to find out what the beautiful petals are actually made of. One of a kind, this exhibition is meant for all, and can be understood by few.

Photographs : Trusha Trivedi

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