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Kanu Patel's Journey of Creativity:

Kanu Patel's Journey of Creativity:

- Abhijit Vyas

When a person intends to create a form of art, he/she selects a medium to fulfill the same. This can be any medium. What is important for a creator is his/her manifestation. But when this manifestation is through the medium of painting, it does not involve only a canvas, but also the thought or idea drawn on it with the help of colors and forms or figures. Hence a thought alone is not important, but how that thought or idea is expressed is of great importance.

Painter Kanaiyalal Patel is popularly known as Kanu Patel. More than an individual, Kanu Patel is a painter, an artist par excellence. He is a multi-faceted artist. Hence his introduction in various art forms is different. He is an integral artist. Being an actor too, he is actively working in plays, TV serials and cinema. Hence he is also known as an actor. He is also a good administrator and is associated with a number of institutions. He has also served as a principal of a Fine Arts college and was very popular among his students. He is also known as a designer and a painter. But here I intend to introduce this multifaceted personality as a painter.

In the current exhibition he has presented some of his paintings painted in the last few years. These paintings are the manifestations of his thoughts, or say poems expressed on the canvas through colors. A number of words are expressed in these paintings through colors and lines. These paintings are his creations after his series of paintings on the subject of 'Nostalgia', 'Rainscape' and 'Mask'.

As an artist Kanu Patel manifests impressions of centuries, which are embedded on the human mind, in a representative form. He experiences the religion, history, literature and arts of our country, and this is not limited to a particular region or language, but encompasses the whole region and timeline of our country. It is because of this that his (painting) brush is dipped in the colors of references from regions across the country. As a result his paintings, in spite of being contemporary in art form, express centuries of our legacy.

Traditionally he is a representative of religious people. He follows our (religious) system without necessarily being religious himself. Lord Krishna is one of our most worshiped deities. Lord Krishna is not merely the divine element, and this is why the dark skinned Krishna stands out in the blue background. Blue is the color of love, and one person represents us all as a devotee (of love). I do not intend to name that person, nor do I want to identify that person as an individual. That is why that artist may be the painter himself or the contemplator too. And because of this he represents all of us collectively. He presents us symbolically. In this very tradition he is reminded of his town and the idol of Hanumanji. All these references connect him with the narrative of our 'Ramayana'. Our sacred mythological works were written on 'Bhojpatra' (Bark of a tree used for writing). On this very background of 'Bhojpatra' this complete narrative is presented. 'Rama" is there, but he combines all the ancestral deities. The interesting thing of this painting is that - together with 'Rama' all the other deities are depicted in blue color. In another painting too, we can see 'Hanumanji'. But here 'Nandi' is presented facing 'Hanumanji'. Hence there is a reference to the story of 'Rudra Avatar (Incarnation)'. Thus, when the content changes, the narration in the painting changes as well.

Our history and traditions are connected with religion. The invasions of foreigners on our country and the shattering down of our artifacts by them is very much there in his mind. That is the reason why, when he paints 'Natraj' in shattered state, he links with it the history associated with it. And these references are presented in green color. It is just more than sufficient for an artist to point out such a reference. And 'Bhojpatra' is a medium to present our sacred mythological works. In one more painting an idea is expressed with 'Bhojpatra' in the background. Here (Muslim) Fakirs are presented in green color. On one hand we see the tradition of Hindu Rishis and side-by-side there is reference to (Muslim) Fakirs, which expresses the idea of equality (of religions).

In this series of paintings of mythological characters, there is a painting that presents the Buddhist philosophy. In this painting 'Avalokiteshvara - (Lord who contemplates)' is presented as a symbol of Energy. As a matter of fact this is the painting of the sculpture of 'Vajra Tara' - another name of 'Avalokiteshvara'. 'Vajra Tara' appears as a female Buddha (and a Tantric Meditation Deity) in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is the female aspect of 'Avalokiteshvara'. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Here I only intend to point out to the story of this deity, because the sculpture itself tells a lot about her. A Buddhist Monk also appears in this painting along with 'Vajra Tara', and he too is presented as a marble sculpture just as the main sculpture of "Vajra Tara'. As a painting it is extremely impressive and charming; emotional and artistic too.

How can one forget literature amidst all these mythological and historical references? Literature is an art of narration, so is painting a descriptive art. It is just not possible that one narrator does not influence another narrator. Hence the words expressed by Rabindranath Tagore in his paintings and Rabindranath himself too are Kanu Patel's favorite characters. It is worth noting here that Rabindranath Tagore too acted in plays; and Kanu Patel, besides being a painter, is also a very good actor. He has spread the light of his acting in plays, TV serials and cinemas. He has performed plays created by Rabindranath Tagore and also played the character of Rabindranath. But presently we are talking about his paintings. Kanu Patel's paintings of Rabindranath Tagore are made keeping in mind Rabindranath Tagore as a man of letters; but what has actually popped up on the canvas is Rabindranath Tagore as an actor.

Rabindranath had played the character of Valmiki in his plays. As a painter, Kanu Patel has introduced the same character in his paintings. In it there is his favorite poetry and also Victoria Ocampo in a dramatic pose. No one in our country has achieved the position and respect in literature as Rabindranath Tagore. Writers/Authors, who have craved to attain that status are also referred to in the series of paintings of Rabindranath Tagore. The beginning of the 19th century was the period of resurrection and renaissance for Indian Art. Rabindranath had a great influence on many forms of art. But when painter Kanu Patel ponders over this period, Amruta Shergil appears in his mind.

There is a reference in this painting to the transformation that took place in that period in the field of arts. When Amruta Shergil entered into the field of Indian Art of Painting, she was very much influenced by Paul Gauguin. Amruta Shergil was the first Indian Impressionist painter, but when her creation began, her characters became Indian. Thus, even if one end touches the West, the halo of the characters expressed in her paintings is totally Indian. Here too the painting is presented in the Impressionist form. There are references attached to that period and to references associated with Amruta.

A human being is continuously and naturally playing some role or the other. It is not necessary that a stage is needed to perform a role. There is no bigger stage than life itself. Hence the human being is hidden behind the 'Mask'. He performs different roles wearing different masks. How to identify the real human being behind the mask? Hence the human being is presented in some of the paintings wearing different masks. Mask is not just the mask worn by an individual, but it is also required to present an art. Painting is just 'masking' of part or idea of a complete scene, which conveys a lot through silence.

Kanu Patel's paintings thus manifest some of the vital forms of our traditions, religion, divine elements, history, art and painting and literature pervaded in our being. This is not merely a manifestation, but the form of progressively developed thoughts expressed through the medium of colors. No artist can possibly create anything while staying in a secluded palace. His art form is linked to the halo of complete timeline and region of his environment. And that is what is manifested in Kanu Patel's paintings.

Abhijit Vyas,

Gulab Kunj,

Behind Ranjit Memorial,

Jamnagar – 361 001

M. 9228128728

Email : abhijitsvyas@gmail.com