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Reflection of truth at Jehangir Art Gallery - paintings by Vishnu N. Sonavane & Jyotsna V. Sonavane

Both, Vshnu and Jyotsna's paintings emerge from within their subconscious. Looking at their artworks, it dawns in the mind of the viewer that reality hidden beneath layers of recognizable shapes and forms do not exactly look like what we are familiar with.

Even if, several styles of the past like Cubism, fauvism as well as abstract expressionism resonate in their paintings, yet both artists bring some fresh air of uniqueness. It is hard to place one's finger on what makes their style different from the tradition. But instantly one knows that this is uncharted territory.

To explain that aspect, your correspondent can not help but refer to an experience of his own. Sometime back, right in Jehangir Art Gallery, the living legend, Prabhakar Ji Kolte paid a visit. A group show was going on. He told a group of artists, 'A nice design is not art. Purpose of design is to make something look interesting and useful for all practical purposes. But art is a tool of expression. Therefore, you must express. But I do not see much expression in what you people painted.'

Someone sounded a meek protest, 'But I expressed some feeling on canvas.'

The master laughed, 'Maybe, but I do not see that. It must be very muted. Let me explain what is expression. Let us say, you get engaged in a fight on the road. In a while the mood grows violent. And then what happens? You and your opponent end up shouting , creaming and perhaps hurling abuses at each other. That is expression. Spell out your sorrow, anxiety, anger on canvas. It will be expression in true sense then. It will be art then.'

Another artist asked in all humbleness, 'Sir, you mentioned sorrow, anger and anxiety. How about happiness?'

Prabhakar ji Kolte gazed at him for a moment and moved away saying nothing.

Perhaps his silence meant, expression of happiness is the most challenging task. A question mark hangs mid air - is it possible to depict the tension and thrill in the expression of happiness? And without such elements of suspense, an expression is likely to appear dull.

Now, getting back to the artworks of Vishnu and Jyotsna, we must say that this subtle and fallacious element of happiness as expression attains a dramatic climax on their canvas. Even if they depict truth in unabashed jest, their truth is not dark and painful. Their expression is thrilling, festive and happy.

They set an example for expression of being engaging and suspenseful but still happy.

The exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, will go on until 10th April '23. It is an unmissable visual treat of the art-lovers.

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