Between Light and Shadow
by Poorvi Rajimwalé
"One heavy day I ran away from the grim face of society and the dizzying clamour of the city and directed my weary step to the spacious alley. I pursued the beckoning course of the rivulet and the musical sounds of the birds until I reached a lonely spot where the flowing branches of the trees prevented the sun from touching the earth.
“I stood there, and it was entertaining to my soul - my thirsty soul who had seen naught but the mirage of life instead of its sweetness."
– Khalil Gibran
One of the rare colour-field painters of India, Pandit Khairnar's latest body of works are currently on display at Gallery Threshold, New Delhi. An alumni of the L.S. Raheja School of Art, Mumbai, Khairnar's oeuvre contains a deep, zen-like meditative quality. Devoid of any subject matter or form, these paintings spread out like vast expanses of colour that engulf the viewers, submerging them in their brilliant gradations of tonality. His works spring from memory rather than observation, deriving their inspiration from mother nature herself .
Khairnar was born into a farmer's family in Nashik, Maharashtra, and grew up surrounded by the luxuriant greenery all around. He spent well around 25 years in Mumbai before returning to his hometown where he currently lives and works. The deep impact of his surroundings is quite evident in his compositions. There is a poetic fluidity which reflects the ever-changing moods of landscapes. Yellows and oranges brilliantly merge with whites and browns, accentuating the mystical moments where dawn gives way to the day.
There is a subconscious pull in his body of work – one can feel the sunshine and smell the rivulets; they invoke deep emotional memories. The style of colour-field painting was developed by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still in the US while searching for an alternative style of abstraction that might fittingly express their yearning for the infinite. In India, however, there are only a handful of artists that have explored this field. The names of V.S. Gaitonde, Rajendra Dhawan, Natvar Bhavsar, Sohan Qadri come to mind. It is probably because it is very difficult to evoke any emotion in the viewers in the absence of any recognizable figurative form. It requires an evolved viewer who is able to comprehend the emotions that the artist is trying to suggest and respond to that.
Artist Pandit Khairnar at Gallery Threshold
While trying to make a conversation with the paintings, endless marks and patterns emerge on graphite paper which almost resemble a walk through the winter fog or some obscure image of a grayish object that gets sharper as one gets closer. The horizontal lines suggest calm whereas the broken lines express ephemerality. To be able to capture the sensitivity of the landscapes with such an economy of means illustrates Khairnar's proficient drawing skills. What appears simple is quite complex in Khairnar's works.
His works are not a mirror of the images found in nature but an essence of sensations derived from them.
The show continues till 7 May 2022.
(All images are courtesy of Gallery Threshold and the artist Pandit Khairnar. All photographs of the display from the gallery are courtesy of Aakshat Sinha.)
Poorvi Rajimwalé is originally from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She holds a Masters in English Literature. She is currently based in Delhi, works as a freelance artist and writes on art.