Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
The high-back chairs, thrones, crowns and chandeliers, each done in deep rich red, gold and black transports you to a royal durbar of yore, a time when aristocracy ruled. But then so does their creator, Vishal Joshi, an artist-cum-photographer-cum-film maker-cum-writer, who looks no less than a Maratha ruler himself.
Shridharani Art Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi, is playing host to a series of paintings on the life and times of kings. Titled The Worthy Opponents, each painting here brilliantly shows the luxurious life the royalty lived. The paintings are an extravagant expression of abundance, grace and pride. The creator of these works, Vishal has interestingly portrayed the transient nature of political power through his signature spiral motifs. These motifs are an expression of his subconscious state. The jewel studded crowns and velvet upholstered thrones reflect the luxury and brilliance of gold. Yet they seem ephemeral, the solid shapes gradually melting down into arbitrary webs of spirals.
In the painting Emperor’s Script, Vishal uses his trademark spirals to show the annals recording the downfall of a throne, thus exposing the vulnerability of power. “Be it then or now, the downfall one king (or political opponent) is marked by the ascent of another,” he says. In another work, the artist shows the crowing ceremony of a king, explaining through his trademark spirals how the other kings are jealous as well as scared of the mighty king who is being crowned. He uses different styles of chairs and crowns to show different kings, even queens.
One side of the gallery has a mirror with a crown painted on it surrounded by paintings of royal fixtures in decorative frames. “A visitor looking into this mirror becomes a part of the royalty that surrounds him,” he says. Quite innovative, I must say.
Significantly, all these works of Vishal have come up in the last 7-8 months time. Quite a short duration of time considering the volume of work, but then, that’s his style. “When I start a work, I don’t stop, till I reach the end point. A break means change of thoughts and colours,” he says.
A graduate from the College of Art, Indore, Vishal began his career as a fashion designer in 1996, and still designs when he in mood (he was a participant in the recently-held Indore Fashion week). In 1999, he entered the world of fine art, and started doing not just paintings, but installations and sculptures as well.
The artist has varied interests: he is an avid biker, ace photographer, an ardent traveler, directs film (recently directed a short film on an NGO for Magic Bus) and also writes scripts (he as submitted his script with the Children Film Society of India).
“I love meeting people, I learn from them, and in some way or the other, some time or the other the knowledge I gain from others reflects in my works,” he says.
A restless soul (aren’t most creative people are?), Vishal cannot stick to one place for long. He did his schooling from Banswada, Rajasthan, college from Indore, moved to Mumbai five years back and now again wants to shift city.
“There is a reason. One must keep on testing oneself. If you stay in a city for too long, people make you a celebrity and it kills your creativity. It’s important to examine one’s potential from time to time and that can be done only by moving to new places where no one knows you,” he says.
He has no plan as to where he will move next. “If things don’t go as per the plans, it leads to disappointments and negativity, while I am a positive person. And I want to remain one, so I don’t plan” he smiles.