ANGUISHED ARTIST - II
S.L. Parasher was settling into his new found life. One can only imagine how difficult it
must have been to forget all those hard times filled with sadness and misery. To start a normal and settle life was an effort.The time while applying for directorship of the camp in Ambala he said, “I have lost all. “After the heartbreak of camp, Mr. Parasher and his family got a little respite from tragedy and an opportunity for a new beginning. While he was establishing the art school in Shimla, he wanted to include some of the different kinds of art forms.In an effort to foster some rare art forms, Mr. Parasher also included various kinds of metal work, pottery and even what he called the creation of ‘everyday objects’. He searched for masters of these art forms to serve as teachers and also learned these crafts himself. During that time he did a lot of work and one can see a completely different art form. The work done in Shimla is a sudden shift from bleak and wrenching drawings in charcoal and pencil which he did earlier. The faces of the figures in the earlier years are vague and not seen and if visible they are rough outs of raw emotions.The sketches are rough but drawn with strong strokes and emotions whereas the work done in Shimla is in other mediums like colored pens and pencils, soft pastels and watercolors with splash of colors.
He captured every day scenes like wild mountains, hill people, caravans, school children, woman with colorful dresses and happy faces. He loved his life in the foot of the Himalayas where he explored a lot. He sketched everyday scenes and common people like grass cutters,rickshaw pullers, ladies resting, trees intricately. He made many portraits of hill women. The features are totally different from what he had made earlier. These women were rosy cheeked and fair with a tinge of color in their dresses. He captured their happy expressions, smiles and showed minimal jewelry like ‘nath’ (nose ring) which makes the portrait appealing. Another painting which caught my attention is of ‘Langurs’. He captured their activity and movements at the same time composing the painting in bright colors. The background is bright yellow with the
branches of the trees of a light shade and the leaves are in bright green and yellow shades. The flowers are bright orange with red tinge. The brightness of the painting is balanced with the two ladies perched on a stone. They’re wearing black salwars (Indian traditional lowers)and draped in not too bright yellow and bright green dupattas. Expressions on the ladies faces are very serene and calm.In fact you can even see a flicker of smile on the face of one.The whole painting is very bright and at the same time very balanced .He has indeed played very well with colors. No dull color is used but all the colors have been placed and composed beautifully. The black color of the salwars is like the center of the painting from which the other bright colors are vibrating.
Another painting which catches our attention is the ‘Grass cutters.’ The whole painting is
set against a very simple landscape. In the background you can see small hill in grey and purple shades. The grass is in bright green with shades of yellow. We can see few wild flowers painted here and there. The hard work of these women and how vigorously they are cutting grass can be seen in the contours of their figures. A very lively painting,indeed. The three figures dominate the whole painting. The viewer’s eye does not go to the surroundings at all. The women are dressed in simple black bottom and pastel shaded kurtas. Dupattas tied on their heads in a typical manner of a working hill women are fascinating.
We can see from these paintings that in this phase he was enjoying exploring himself as an artist. The riot of colors in his paintings is stark different from his previous works. The landscapes are beautiful with splashes of color showing the untouched scenic beauty of Shimla. He has changed them into beautiful compositions with a touch of color. Seeing the painting one can see that the artist was enjoying the play of colors in his compositions. As a portrait artist we can see Mr Parasher’s style changed. The portraits
done in the camp were of women whose faces depicted anguish.
Here I would like to compare two portraits done by him in different phases of life.
As we can see in the above pictures both are of women. The first one has features resembling a Punjabi woman and the second one’s resembles those of a hill woman. The portrait of the hill woman is made in light hues but we can see the happiness in her face and a tinge of pink color in her complexion makes her face very attractive. The eyes of the hill woman are very lively unlike the previous work done in the camp.We can see the strong brushwork in both the portraits. The chiseled face of both women is not to be missed but the portrait of hill woman is colored with soft hues which enhances the beauty of the portrait. Though he has used very subtle shades yet the rosy cheeks and fair complexion enhances the beauty of the hill woman. The dupatta draped on the head of hill woman has just a tinge of green but the swift strokes brings out the essence. So we can see how the artist evolved in the last few years.
Another interesting example of the artist’s strong line work can be seen in a sketch made on an envelope addressed to the artist from Bombay. He has done a quick sketch of a figure on a lion. We can guess that he has depicted Goddess Durga on her vahan. The artist’s line suggests a lot of movement . She’s holding a sword in one hand and even in the rough sketch the paws of lion seem to be strong and stance of lion emits the ferociousness of the animal.
The artist did lot of sculptures too. In his paintings you can see lot of European perspective Perhaps this was the most productive phase of his life. Mr. Parasher mentions that his original training was through traditional art. Later, contemporary movements of modern art also influenced his work. He started exploring his own style while learning the artistic traditions of his own heritage. He wanted to be closely associated with his roots as he had been uprooted before. But destiny had other plans. When the school shifted from Shimla in 1958, Parasher's lives was again disrupted as they moved to Bombay and he assumed directorship of the All India handicrafts board. With the loss of the natural beauty and near isolation of a Himalayan retreat came an urban life more closely connected to the larger art community: both Indian and international. Here again we will see a shift in the artist’s work. In Bombay the artist met other artists and intellectuals. This helped him evolve further. He was, eventually, selected by "Le Corbusier" to create a mural for the new city of Chandigarh. This was perhaps a turning point in the artist’s life. His vision towards traditional and contemporary experimentation was fueled.
Please refer to the part I of this article using the link below: