I still remember my visit to Baroda in the mid nineties. I had taken the Rajdhani Express, which reached Baroda at 3:40am…no one was awake at that time, including me. For some reason, I awoke and realized that the train was at a station…and in no time I realized it was Baroda. Grabbing my imperial folio and my backpack, I jumped off just in time the train started pulling away. There was no way I was going to miss my entrance exam to the Faculty of Fine Arts!
In a couple of days, I was back at the platform…slightly dejected that I didn’t get through the final stage of the school. Though the departure from Baroda to New Delhi for the Rajdhani Express is a respectable 9:30pm, the train was delayed many time due to monsoons. In fact, I had already made a visit at 9pm and then realized that the train was delayed and there was no update. Finally, they announced that it would depart at 4:00am the next morning. I nearly missed the train as I had gone back to my relative’s place, and slept till 3:30am. By the time I reached the station, it was almost 4am and the train was just pulling in. Soon afterwards, I was on the train and left an alternative timeline behind me…what would have happened if I stayed back…what would I have been today?
I probably would have become an artist, settled in Baroda, and hopefully would have been successful. Even though I am still in the world of arts, I often think of Baroda, and maybe that’s the reason I visit it so often to meet artists, friends, students…to curate shows or to buy art. But it’s never enough.
In this post, I will mention some of my friends in Baroda…artists, whom I have known for a few years. Having followed their practice for many years, I have seen them as students, struggling artists and today artist who have made a name for themselves. One of the artists I always visit is Chinmoy Pramanick, a sculptor, who has worked with various mediums including painting on the subject of desires of daily life. His previous solo exhibition was at Gallery Ske, following which he has been quietly working on a new series of works. Watch out for him in the coming years!
Sandip Pisalkar recently was awarded the FICA Emerging ArtistAward and experiments with multiple mediums, installations and motion in his works. Though he is currently working with taxidermy, he is a young master of most mediums. What I like about this young man is his ability to be patient, especially when he learning about a new medium. The goat in the picture is being tested for its life, only after which he will display the work.
Jignisha Ojha is a painter who has been working with the idea of miniature paintings on larger canvases. Her canvases include traditional painted borders with surrealist themes enacted by miniature characters mostly in a traditional garb. She has recently returned from a 5-month residency in Korea and is looking forward to a solo in China.
Saroj Singh is a cricketer (seriously) from Benares and he gave it all up to become an artist. A sculptor, Saroj is currently working with the idea of fertility and growth through small and large sculptures made of metal. Working in a cramped studio ( as seen in the picture), he is currently working on a large-scale commission for a new office in Mumbai. He is one of the few artists who makes a lot of drawings of his sculptures, often converting them to collectible paper works.
Last but not the least in this post is Muktinath Mondal…one of the most organized artist I have met on this visit. More than his art (which I like), i was happy to see his enthusiasm in showing me his works, the cleanliness of his studio and his sincerity to this practice. He is currently represented by Exhibit 320, which had organized a solo for him a couple of months back. His work was also part of the India Art Fair.
In the three days I was in Baroda, it was the usual studio visit, residencies, spending a day at the Faculty…as I mentioned before, I call this my pilgrimage. Thank you, everyone, for taking out time to show me your works, serve chilled Thums-Up or warm tea. I look forward to the next Chai-Paani session with you!