Monday, March 3, 2014

OBITUARY - Prafulla Dahanukar (1934 - 2014) Of Immortality through Art..


Prafulla Dahanukar (1934-2014) - Of Immortality through Art

When one tries to retrace the footsteps of a senior artist who has passed away, one is left facing the hollow transition from the world of the ‘is’ substituted rapidly with the world of the ‘was’. Veteran artist, Prafulla Dahanukar was claimed by history on 1st of March 2014. The void she left behind in the art scene, is comparable only to the irreconcilable chasm felt between the ‘is’ and the ‘was’, observes Sushma Sabnis.

( Artist Prafulla Dahanukar)
‘Prafulla Tai’, as she was lovingly addressed by many who knew her, was renowned for her intense, meditative and soulful abstract paintings. Naturally beginning with the figurative language she moved towards portrayals of landscapes, eventually breaking away from all classifying agencies, to paint ‘Freedom’ in her works. Her attempt was to paint peace through her art works. Her works acted as windows which opened up to vast expanses of an internal ‘space’; a womb of the Universe, where everything co-existed in harmony. She believed this space and freedom reflected the quintessential human mind. Blending the microcosmic and the macrocosmic in a singular thread of her artistic journeys, exploring line, form, colour and texture in her works, Prafulla Tai unlocked windows within the viewer’s mind. Embedded in the paintings were depths of a tranquillity, an energy and a complex interplay between finite and the infinite, reflecting the indomitable spirit of the artist. 

Her keen interest in theatre and classical music also contributed to the essence of her works. The flow and ebb, the crescendo and the tiny flecks of distinct notes reflected in her art works. Her painting series titled, Ragas (1962) are examples of the union of the moods of music with her artistic expression. Her exploration of abstractions in nature had been an influence at an early age and this manifested in her large scale works. She is also well known for her murals in ceramic, wood, fiberglass and glass mediums, which adorn some of the prominent buildings in Mumbai, Kolkata and several other cities. She had a great interest in public art and would often be seen as a keen visitor of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival held at Mumbai. Many of her paintings are in private and public collections in India and all over the world and have been part of several auctions conducted by auction houses like Sotheby’s and Osean.
(Work by Prafulla Dahanukar)
Her friendly nature and charm helped her build an easy rapport with people of all ages, and the support she offered to the younger generations of artists is well known. One cannot forget her reminisce and narrate anecdotes and interactions with renowned artist  MF Hussain who she admired and who she dedicated her poem to during his memorial service held at Jehangir Art Gallery in 2011. Prafulla Tai was also known for being a part of the art movement in India along with several well known founder members of the movement.  She set up her studio in Lonavala where her humanitarian side came into focus when she was involved as the main trustee of an orphanage called Bal Anandgram for thirty years.

Born in Goa, Prafulla Tai was a J J School of Art, Mumbai (1955) graduate. She was later granted a year long scholarship to pursue her studies at the Echole de Beaux Arts and Atelier 17, Paris(1961). She had been having shows of her works since 1956, and won a silver medal at the Bombay Art Society Portrait Exhibition, later on becoming the President of the Society from 1993-1998. Apart from this she had been on the committee of Jehangir Art Gallery, Lalit Kala Akademi, Goa, and also was the President of The Art Society of India and the Chairperson of the Artists' Centre, Mumbai.

(Prafulla Dahanukar at the Neerja Modi Art Camp in 2009)
When one visits the web site of this impactful artist who dedicated her life to art, one is overwhelmed by her accomplishments in the eighty years of her fruitful life. She was someone whose art career spanned over 50 years, not just as a prolific artist but also as a patron of the arts, a guide to upcoming artists and an inspiring human being. One would often find her in the galleries visiting the art shows, interacting with the artists and students, sharing valuable experiences of her art practices with them.

There is a certain unavoidable grief felt at the loss of an individual who has touched and influenced so many lives in a good way, but it would be pessimistic to say that an artist is dead. Artists can never die, because they live on through their works, their art becomes a living entity for all to become part of. In that sense each time a viewer connects with her art, Prafulla Dahanukar would come alive in the minds and hearts of the viewers, making her immortal.

Prafulla Dahanukar lives on in the memories of her husband, Dilip Dahanukar, and daughters, Gopika and Gauri and the entire art fraternity.

(All images have been acquired from the internet for illustrative purposes only)


Chasing Mirrors
( Work on display)
Apparao Galleries, Delhi presents a group show of artists titled, ‘Chasing Mirrors -  A reflection and exploration of urban geographies’. With a focus singularly on the cities that we live in today, which are in a state of change constantly. The show addresses the coexistence of chaos and tranquillity, modernity and tradition, the materialistic and the spiritual, all popping up at every twist and turn in a city street. This colourful deterministic and indeterministic chaos is reflected in the cityscape, defining and redefining the geography of the urban space in an ever changing dynamic state of existence. This has acted as an inspirational elixir for the artists who have tried to portray it in their art works.

The participating artists are, Alexis Kersey, Dhasan, Kumar Ranjan, Mainaz Bano, Mukta Wadhwa, R M Palaniappan, Rajeev Kumar, N Ramachandran, Rohini Singh, Suchit Saini, Vidhan Kumar and Vinita Dasgupta.

The show is on view till 30th April 2014 at The Lodhi, New Delhi.

( Work by Ribaka Nikam)
Gallery Pradarshak, Mumbai presents a solo show of art works by artist Ribaka Nikam. The show is titled, ‘ Mood’ and on display are works by the artist rendered in acrylic on canvas. 

Ribaka is a painter, sculptor and a ceramist who uses all the elements to aptly portray her thoughts in art.The works are primarily figurative with narrative quality distinct to her style. Using bright hues and vibrant colours she anoints the works with a certain amount of positivity and movement. Using the child Buddha as a muse, she depicts the visages of her the muse in multiple representations. Introducing at times decorative elements and layering the visages with a narrative element, the works are replete with textural nuances made with calligraphy and other skills, uplifting the paintings.

The show is on view till 14th March 2014.

Women With Substance

Prakrit Art Gallery, Chennai is celebrating International Women’s day by commemorating Women artists from all over India and showcasing their works. A unique show will be held at the gallery, which will feature works of these women artists who have faced struggle and challenges in life to get to a respectable stage in life.

The participating artists are, Asma Menon, Arpana Kaur, Bandana Kumari, Gita, Hemlatha, Kamla Ravikumar, Mariam Castelli, Razia Tony, Rini Dhumal, Seema Kohli, Seema Ghurayya, Shipra Bhattacharya, Thejo Maye Menon.

A percentage from the sale of paintings will be donated to CanKids by these women artists and Prakrit Arts who wants to sensitize people about working for noble causes through their art.

The show commences on 10th March and is on view till 15th March 2014.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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