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MANISH PUSHKALE explains the purpose of “light” in his works to Aashna Abrol.

Amongst contemporary modern Indian artists, Manish Pushkale occupies a unique position. In today’s bustling art world, Manish’s calm, contemplative canvases are reflective of the unbroken emergence of civilization and its underlying spirituality, of genesis, progress and change. His work as a Trustee of ‘The Raza Foundation’ and many other organisations promoting art and literature are his efforts to contribute towards a sustainable artistic and intellectual legacy for future generations. Manish had the opportunity to work closely with the master artist S.H. Raza and recollects some fond memories about him, “I got the great impact of his art on my set, but I am more influenced by his philanthropy, humour, mannerism and unconditional dedication towards his art.” Manish has emerged as a youth icon being an inspiration and a willing mentor to many aspiring artists whom he provides with artistic and commercial guidance, exhibitions and camps to help promote them.

Manish Pushkale in his studio in New Delhi, with Aashna Abrol

AA: You are popularly known as an artist of light, you have put a lot of emphasis on light and its impact on the way we see things. One can see a gradual progression from a world of gloom and darkness to illuminated and enlightened space. How did you think of creating this? Why have you given so much emphasis on the projection of light?

From Left: Manish Pushkale, Prabhakar Kolte and SH Raza

MP: Light is something which remains in the core of my works, but differently! It is not about the light which has been the focus of paintings, but what I paint is its antonym. Light becomes important in the context of enduring darkness. Man has made many kinds of artificial sources of lights, but he never thought of creating the artificial darkness. The darkness of our modern times is still original and natural. New tools of light reflect modernity whereas darkness confronts my prehistoric being, hence, the light in my paintings has not to do with those modern artificial sources and sciences, but, the light is about the urge in the darkest natural.

AA: In your paintings, I have seen different layers. It is like layers of different stories woven together. It can be viewed as an amalgamation of art, poetry, literature, music and much more. What do you have to say about this?

MP: Yes, it is true because I strongly believe that sedimentation is a natural process, it exists in tangible nature as well as in the form of memory in our intangible being. We prevail in heterogeneous situations and this intangible sedimentation of human beings plays a very important role in the thought process of their society. Every expression: art, literature, poetry or music, is derived and refined from this sedimentation which is a continuum of being.

AA: In one of your conversations with eminent writer and poet Ashok Vajpeyi you discussed the ‘role of an artist in today’s time’. What according to you think is the role of an artist in today’s time?

MP: Artists are not only mirrors, but they are also the alchemists of society. It is only through the aesthetics of a society, one can understand its civility. Hence, the role of an artist in society is very important not only as an entertainer but as an interpreter. I am still waiting for a society which is more interested in the aesthetics of art.

In a candid conversation with me, Manish Ji shared some interesting stories about his life and fascinating facts about his work. He believes that the urge to talk is a natural human tendency and conversations to him are like a search for his 'otherness". His intellectual leanings have also resulted in his lively engagement in debates and dialogues on matters of artistic dispute and discussion and have led him to become widely read provocateur and art columnist.

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