Rahul Inamdar is a painter who is intent upon evoking a feeling, not a form. The artist surrenders to intuition. The colours emerge onto the canvas from the inner recesses of his mind, playing out in vibrant reds, sombre greys and seductive shades of burnt sienna and forest green. A lot of preparation takes place to achieve transparency, intensity, silence and music. Each painting distills to the point of bringing us closer to the essence of being. We had a chat with the young artist.
Tell us about your show, ellipsis…
ellipsis is the show of my recent works, oils on canvas. My works are purely abstract, they don’t tell a story but evolve a feeling which a discerned viewer connects with. The works in these show have been created over last two years.
ellipsis, or what we know as three dots… is a construct where the speaker trails off a message, assuming that the unsaid, the…, will be understood by the listener. In some way, this resonates with abstract work, where the work does connect with the viewer without anything being said or explained.
When you say ‘I hate sameness so I consciously avoid getting stuck in a form.’ How do you ensure the same doesn’t happen?
Working, and making art is a continuous process of learning. The idea is to progressively push the boundaries and make the work more and more simple, intense and pure, with every work. Obviously, an artist seeks to have his/ her signature running through the work. The trap is the form. The moment one says, this is how my work looks — there is a visual that binds one — and over a period of time, sameness begins to appear. The way to stay away from it, is to focus on the essence of the work: the meaning, the purpose. This keeps the direction clear, without the trappings.
When you plan a solo show, how do you decide on which works deserves to reach art connoisseurs?
The process of editing of works happens right after the work is ready. There are three categories. First, the good ones: ones I keep. Second, the trashy ones which get discarded right away. Third, the interesting ones. These are the ones that need some hours of viewing — these are not the ones one would say are wow but some of these take time to grow on. With this process at the back, selection of works for solo becomes simple. I look at a solo show as an opportunity to showcase the works that are most edgy and unpredictable.
The first time you felt the urge to express yourself through painting…
During my corporate stint, in 2007, one say I took a canvas, colours and painted. It was one of the things that came from an urge, unplanned but felt necessary. After that I never stopped.
How do you select colours? What is the thought when you choose them?
My work begins with a blank canvas and a blank mind. I do not plan anything beyond that – because I like to experience the serendipity of the work. The selection of colours happens in the flow. However, it is not random – it happens from the set of my select colours.
Is any colour related with a particular emotion?
No. Actually I don’t agree with this compulsive nature to give labels to colours. Yes, blood is red. But colouring aggression / anger red isn’t. It is just a part of an established narrative. If we are able to step out of it, and see things as they are, without a bias, the world is a different place. Art pushes us to do that.
Tell us about your family and educational background. What was the reaction back home when you told everyone that you wanted to be an artist?
I come from a family of professors. My father is a doctor, mother has a Ph.D. My sister is an actress. My wife is a banker. As a middle class boy, I was supposed to take normal education and take up a job. So I did my engineering and MBA and joined a job. However, there was a lot of unrest in my mind. The idea of moving towards a commonly agreed/ dictated goal didn’t fascinate me. I wanted to do something end-to-end, in my own capacity.
Till 2007, I didn’t know that I wanted to paint. But once I started, it grew organically. There was an initial shock when I told my family about taking up art as a profession. But soon, there was tremendous support from my family, also from my then employers, Godrej, which allowed me to set up my studio alongside my job and start painting. In 2013, when I finally quit, there was no tentativeness in the decision.
Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why?
I have been inspired by the fictional architect, Howard Roark, from the novel, The Fountainhead. I resonate with his clarity, focus and drive to do the work he loves – and his philosophy. It connects with me at multiple levels — the oneness, simplicity, the purity that Ayn Rand has brought into this character makes him truly an inspiration.
What is Rahul Inamdar doing when he is not in front of a canvas?
Even when I am at my studio, I don’t always paint. I like to write, read, listen to music — but the questions such as ‘how to go subtler? how to go simpler in art?’ keep running through my head all the time. On weekends, I like to spend time with my family and my 10-year-old daughter.
Where in the world do you get genuine art connoisseurs; people who actually understand art?
They are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes – business people, doctors, architects, students, writers, artists. All you have to do is to make good art, show your art and be patient. They sniff and find you.
Your favourite artist/ painter today?
I like Nasreen Mohamedi’s work. When I think about art, I don’t like to think about the time in which it is produced. The work has to be timeless, and must create awe, every time one sees it. The way Nasreen lived, is the way Nasreen worked and one sees the integrity. The quality of her art leaves one spellbound.
Your opinion of the increasing number of art fairs being organised across the country. Would these, in your opinion, help artists reach out to the masses?
Art fairs do their bit, in helping artist reach out to an audience — at one place. However, art fairs are only the consumer facing part of the art ecosystem. Gallery shows, biennales, museum retrospectives, art writings and critic, public art interventions — are all are necessary to build art perspective and art consumption in society. Art has a very solid role in a young restless nation called India — as appreciation of art builds in tolerance to contra viewpoints and evolves us into a mature society. It also makes us better artists.