Anand Panchal: Country roads take me home…

Despite living in Kandivli, a western suburb of Mumbai and managing his nearby art studio, Panchal covers mostly everything rural. His heart is usually pointing to the countryside. He prefers to experiment with the life in the villages that seems to promise a rich array of figurative paintings.

Panchal was born into a Latur family in Maharashtra, with a tradition in the carpentry business.  Not the run of the mill plywood furniture, mind you, but working with carvings on quality wood.

Art, a Family Tradition

His grandmother, unusual for a woman in the business, thrived well with her hobby of making puppets of wood.  She also loved to work on intricate carvings in her otherwise busy life in a joint family. 

Thus, unlike most artists and perhaps painters, Panchal did not drift into his current vocation. There was abundant creativity in the house and it was only a matter of when not if. 

A teacher discovered in the 10th standard boy, a somewhat natural talent for drawing at a chance local competition. He was lucky that his parents then encouraged Panchal to enrol in a professional art class.

At that point, Panchal was not sure what art was all about. He was not aware of the distinction between the various art forms, leave aside the fact that there was a chance to build a career in the field.  He drew the village life, the daily scenes of bullock carts, wells, farm lands, and people at work and children at play at the peak of their innocence. It was only later at J. J., did Panchal realize the various genres like sculptures, drawing, painting, commercial art, applied art, fine art, visual art and the several forms that have emerged today.  I was also fascinated by figurative art when we discussed that in class.

Figurative art, also known as figurativism, refers to works of art, especially sculptures and paintings, originating from real sources. Figurative art is often considered the contrast to abstract work, where everything is left to the artist or the viewer’s imagination. Figurative art can include portraits, landscape, seascapes and the first cave paintings.

Panchal enrolled at G D Art (Drawing & Painting), Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, Pune. After showing a lot of promise, he joined the prestigious Sir J J School of Arts, Mumbai, to complete a Diploma in Art Education.

Finally, he found his true vocation – as a painter, with particular fervour towards the canvas. Though not of any particular mould, he drew inspiration from the masters, western as well and Indian. He is particularly enamoured of Amrita Sher Gil, the original lady of classic Indian paintings. He is inspired by her expressive renderings.  Though he is deeply influenced by Rembrandt, Renoir, and Gauguin, he feels that he has developed his own individual style. His favourites are children and he specializes in capturing their innocence.  Panchal has occasional trysts with animals too through his art. 

He claims that his kind of originality is common place. Choosing a different but relevant analogy, Panchal says that Anurag Kashyap and Karan Johar are both acclaimed filmmakers. Yet, both their products are as different as chalk and cheese. Similarly, he feels that each painter has his or her own style, developed over the years.

And thus, over the years, Panchal has produced several masterpieces done in his typical tightly framed long and, narrow formats. His paintings appear like tight frames viewed through a narrow lens, say a 40MM SLR. 

He has perfected a narrative style (storyboard) of telling stories. It is like people meeting one another, birds and animals joining the fun, village scenes unwrapping themselves and the like. His paintings are mostly redolent of the temple colours. Red as the kumkum and yellow as the haldi. There are also the special bright blues. All his paintings are bold, colourful and well, cheerful as well.

Children and Brahmin Boys as Subjects

Children and Brahmins form the majority of his outputs. His bright and scholarly looking Brahmins bring peace and calm, as opposed to paintings from other sources that portray sadness, gloom, riots and disorder. 

He likes rural children. In their eyes, he sees honesty, innocence and hope. Panchal claims he will never tire of painting children in all their vibrancy. He remarks with a hint of sadness that the urban children miss the spontaneity of the children of the villages, in their outlook and expressions.

In addition to children and the Brahminical way of life, Panchal likes to do mythological characters, Anjaneya, being his eternal favourite.  He has done scenes of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and says that he might dwell on these topics again, albeit with different treatments.

While not generally prolific every day, Panchal visits his studio every day. When he is not painting, he likes to research or simply brainstorm himself with ideas, till it is time to connect brush to canvas.  Or the painting knife, as the case may be, like Rembrandt or Courbet, for more special effects.

He feels that titles restrict the scope and beauty of a painting, a view shared by most modern artists. He lets his images be as they are and hope that the viewers like these and keep coming back for more. One of the main reasons, he adds, is that he is unable to foresee the outcome of a painting. The desired results would be something else from what was visualized at the beginning. So when the artist himself or herself evolves within a painting, what use are titles? Added to that, Panchal is a free minded individual, who, politely put, does what he likes.


Planning for the Future

His works have found welcome acceptance across 25 art galleries in India and several more in Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. So much so, when questioned on the numbers, Panchal had lost count!

He is busy planning the next theme on Brahmins for upcoming exhibits and solo entries during 2017. A man of few words, Panchal lets his paintings do the talking.



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