B O O K L A U N C H / A-drishya – ABHISHEK KASHYAP IN CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST HEM RAJ
In the gracious presence of many art enthusiasts, internationally acclaimed artists Anjolie Ela Menon and Jagdish Dey presented ‘A – Drishya’, Art Dialogue Series –I, a book on contemporary India’s renowned artist Hem Raj written by Abhishek Kashyap at New Delhi.
‘‘When I started painting, I used to do figure drawings. Portrait was my subject. My realistic art is very good. But slowly I moved towards abstraction automatically. I didn’t make any effort for this. It happened by itself. Like a plant goes on growing. The shoots sprout, the leaves come out, and then the branches go on forming. Then one day that plant becomes a tree. It is loaded with flowers and fruits. It is his ‘Destiny’. I didn’t try or plan to make an allegorical or abstract drawing. Like I said earlier, it just happened on its own. I see it as the ‘growth’ of the artist.’’
Hem Raj’s art language is also different in the sense that in many of his series of paintings there is a distinctive presence of figures in abstraction.
“I doubt I am an abstract artist in the definitional sense. I just know that I am an artist. I have been painting for years. I will continue to do so.”
Hem Raj discusses his sense of abstraction by raising a question;
“I have nothing to do with the period and spirit in which abstract art began in the West. I listen to Sufi music while I paint. Especially the qawwali of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or the Sabri brothers… I listen to their tunes and get impressed by the rhythm. And the feeling that happens during that time (many times) comes down to my art. Abstract artists of the West, whether it was Vasily Kadinsky or anyone else, did not listen to Sufi music. Nor did Sufi music contribute to the process of their creation.
Then how can I be an abstract artist in their sense?
“Hem Raj has a deep understanding of the forms. These forms are made up of colours and a beautiful combination of colours and shapes sometimes. His paintings evoke a unique experience in their treatment of colour, the formation of shapes, tones and textures. His paintings are about wait and leisure. A certain kind of artistic neutrality beyond the mono linearity is seen in his paintings creating a polymorphic landscape,” says Abhishek Kashyap, during the book launch at Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi.