A soldier and a bindi artist
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Give him a bindi of any size, shape or colour, and he can make an art piece using it. That’s the speciality of Noida-based artist Sheshdhar Pandey. Pandey has much to thank to the humble dot Indian women put on their foreheads, for it is this dot that has given him world-wide acclaim.
He is just back from England where he showcased his Bindi Art in a series on Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela Gandhi and Mandela through Bindi Art besides some fibre glass sculptures covered with bindi, at (at 8, South Audley Street London, Greater London), in June 2016, for which he won accolades from the viewers and appreciation letter from the Nehru Centre, London.
Though Pandey did his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Allahabad College of Art, becoming an artist was not on his mind. He wanted to join the Indian Army and serve the nation. And he did join the Army, but perhaps becoming a soldier was not his destiny.
“I was always interested in art, but then uniform too attracted me a lot. So after I completed my BFA, I joined the Army. I loved being a soldier, the crisp uniform and the disciplined life I had. But then soon enough I started missing my easel and brush,” he says. “I couldn’t pursue my interest while in job. Life was very busy there. So I did what I considered best. Pandey served the Army for some years, (till he became eligible for drawing pension), and quit the Army in 2001,” he says. “Though no one was happy with my decision, I knew what I was doing…. I wanted to resume art work, I didn’t want to have any regrets in life at old age,” he adds.
Back home from Army, he picked up his brush and easel again. But while he resumed his journey in the world of art, made paintings and sculptures, he wanted to do something to ‘stand out’. What it was, he didn’t know. “I needed to do something to stand out, make a name for myself,” he says.
Then one day in 2002 while strolling in Chandni Chowk, he came across the Bindi Market. The scores of bindis, in different colours, shapes and sizes so enthralled him that Sheshdhar Pandey decided there and then to use these pieces d art in his pieces of art. “I don’t know what it is, but there is something which attracted me to bindis, and has kept me bonded to these,” he says.
Then, began Pandey’s actual journey as an artist. Being a trained artist, making drawings and paintings in acrylic and oil was not a difficult thing for him. Neither were doing sculptures. But as he says, he wanted to be different from the rest of the ilk, and often wondered how could he stand out amidst the scores of good and great artists. “Then on an impulse I decided to use bindis in my art works,” he says.
Since Pandey was a novice in the field of Bindi art, for a year (2003-2004), he decided to work under the world-famous pioneers of Bindi art, Bharati Kher and Subodh Gupta. “Working with Kher gave me a new completely new perspective,” he says.
Pandey started working independently in 2004 and carved a niche for himself in the world of Bindi art. He has created life-size portraits of Gautam Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders like Mayawati and Laloo Prasad Yadav. “Working on these huge portraits gives me the most satisfaction,” he says. “Making a sculpture is a tough job in itself, putting bindis on it is all the more time-consuming. But I enjoy it,” he says.
Pandey spends the most part of the day at his studio, and doesn’t like anyone interfering with his work. “My work carries my thoughts, my opinions. There is no sense in making changes depending upon the opinions of others for, in that case it won’t be my work,” he says.
“For 17 long years when I was in Army, I didn’t do any art work, now I want to spend every minute amidst works of art,” he says.