There is a kind of rurality in Sachin Sagare’s approach to paintings. Not for him, artwork on the urban folk, the metro, the tall skyscrapers, or glitz parties. Or matt haired sadhus with their chillums and similar abstracts.
Sachin finds himself at ease and peace when he paints the women ‘he grew up with’. His women typically help their menfolk by plucking cotton or planting paddy. They bring lunch for the men and go back and cook some more. Then they tend to their children of ages. And then take care of their elders. At the end of the day, they are expected to look their best and be seen at the market place, the village fair or the nearby place of worship. The next morning, it is back to the well, drawing water, feeding the cattle, and the replay of cooking and serving. If they have any complaints with their lives, they are not apparent. Their faces radiate all through, with their smile and grace.
Sachin Sagare paints within these settings. His focus is to interpret the tough times Indian village women undergo, day in and day out and come out smiling.
A Sun of the Soil
Regardless of whether Sachin is in his native Pandharpur on the banks of the Bhīma river in Sholapur district, in Vasai, on the outskirts of western Maharashtra near Mumbai, or along the Alphonso region of Sawantwadi on the Mumbai Goa route, he walks around with easel and brush to portray village women in their daily chores. He feels there is a spirituality associated with these women, not easily discernible to the ordinary viewer. The charm and the stoic way in which they accept themselves as part of society is canvassed through a series of paintings he calls as the ‘Spiritual Woman’ series.
Sachin confesses that he is profoundly influenced by his passionate and hardworking mother, grandmother, neighbours and lastly by his wife. Like women from the Stone Age to the present, these womenfolk represent the centrepieces to any culture.
Sachin has no immediate interest in nudes as they do not portray the hidden spirituality, clothed women radiate. That is why his paintings are of Indian women in bright saris and colourful blouses that depict the raw colours of the earth and natural beauty. He moves away from the subtle to the well-defined and sharp featured, draped in reds, golden yellows, oranges and dark blues.
In Pandharpur where he was born, Sachin resists a temptation to paint a series of the famous Vithoba idol and make things ‘easy for himself’. Doubtless, plenty of such paintings will find a market, but Sachin is not interested. He adds, ‘It’s very easy to go out with a mobile camera to capture a static image and then render it as a painting, with some effects thrown in. But there is no apparent originality in portraying people or art that is immediately available’.
Moving from Vithoba to Madhuri Dixit, Sachin says that people will stop questioning who the painter is, in case of celebrity paintings. They will have eyes only for the original face and seldom wonder who the artist is. Therefore, despite hard times, the rural artist paints what he likes, from memory, a trait of the great artists of yore.
His favourite themes include semi realistic flowers in the early morning sunlight, women in their colourful hues, the temple place, but not the temple itself and “pooja ka mahol”. There is an abundance of bedecked women in singles, doubles and multiples.
The paintings with no names
Sachin does not believe in conceiving captions to his paintings. He feels that it restricts the ‘personality ‘of the picture. Opines the artist, ‘It’s easy to give captions like ‘Woman on a bullock cart,’ or ‘Morning Flowers’ etc. But people gaze at these pictures and are unable to, or do not try to visualize beyond the obvious. Why not ‘On the way to the marketplace’, or ‘Marigold Memories’? In other words, Sachin prefers people to put their captions to his countless and nameless paintings and travel down their own creative paths. He gives art aficionados, the licence to reconnect to his images, however they want.
At times, galleries put their names to his paintings, to identify and exhibit his works and Sachin does not mind. He adds that his job is to create what appeals to him to express his inner philosophy and not overly worry about the names and the numbers.
Sachin gets inspired by following the masters. He particularly likes the Marathi translations of Irving Stone’s Lust for Life, (Vincent van Gogh) and Pablo Picasso’s bios by Madhuri Purandare.
Questioning his modest affinity with live models, Sachin says that the approach has its challenges where the artist is concerned. For one, anyone sitting for long hours can display change in moods or expression. That stifles creativity and originality. The other is the cap on experimentation.
He did have his fair share of work with models though, during his academic days. Sachin was not formally educated in art, per se. Growing up in a family of farmers who also tended sheep, Sachin outgrew his job of herding cattle to painting and drawing. He studied art from Abhinav Kala Mahavidhyalay, Pune and Dalvis Art Institute, Kolhapur. As part of the training, he worked with models to understand the techniques- feet positioning, angles, perspectives and the like.
He sees nothing extra ordinary in his transformation from a farming boy to a painter. According to him, at least 60% of the children display a liking for drawing and painting in their formative years. They all like to dabble in paint. However, life’s calling takes a priority and some make it. Some move on. Sachin was among those who made it. He started off as a sign board painter, doing umpteen jobs in this field. He was also able to do a few film postures, before the advent of desk top publishing and flex printing.
There were challenges of all kinds. Money, for one. Location for another and the need to do the right thing at the right place and time. Sachin feels that a majority of the artists are from modest backgrounds and it is the rare one, born with a ‘silver brush in his mouth’. Many had to struggle for recognition, respect and renown. If you do not make it, you fall down the art highway, uncared for.
Major influential artists
Citing his further influences after the masters, Sachin says he likes MF Hussain’s approach. He ushered respect to a profession where there was not much. Earlier, no one particularly cared for artists unless there was a famous signature at the bottom of the painting. Sachin, therefore greatly admires MFH.
Sachin is also influenced by Damien Steven Hirst, the modern day English painter, sculptor entrepreneur, and art collector.
Despite the variety in his paintings, one common factor is his controlled rendering of feminine facial expressions, an advanced feel for colour balancing and subtle use of paint lines in an image. He has retained his technical control of light and shadow from his academic years and introduces restrained blacks where he feels they are required.
Sachin has switched over to acrylic on canvas from oil on canvas. Acrylic, he feels, has an easy effect and dries quickly, as opposed to conventional paint. He is also able to produce a myriad riot of pleasing colours through experimenting.
His favourite dimensions are 5 feet by 5 feet and 5 feet by 8 feet portrait orientations.
He works full time now, having converted the top floor of his house as a studio when not busy with his farming work. He likes nothing more than traveling the countryside, on his two wheeler, looking for inspiration and peace. He is quite content in all regards and now plans to do more of ‘The Village Woman’ series. May be he will paint a few pictures of sunflowers, and the sheep coming home. Perhaps, Alfonso mangoes in their golden hues in his alternate home on the Konkan coast.
A message to upcoming artists
Sachin’s message to youngsters is to follow your passion in any field one may have interest in and the rewards will arrive, later than sooner. While in his own case, it was easy for him to stick to the known-as an artist in an ad agency and lead a life of relative contentment. But then, he was afraid that there will always be the nagging thought that he did not follow his true passion. Sachin is thus using his canvas as his space to gaze out to the world.
For now, his creations are on regular exhibit, particularly in the galleries of Mumbai and Pune.
He signs off by admitting that his rural musings do not end up in his native Maharashtra, or for that matter India. He wants to travel across the world and bring greater perspectives, variety and subtler hues to his canvases.
He has assisted director, Faruk Kabir in ‘Allah Ke Banday’, a 2010 Bollywood film and nurtures the desire to direct at least one movie of the Cannes film festival variety.