Pune Diaries 1 - Art Gallery

For the last 5 years, I lived in Kharagpur, West Bengal. It is a town, no more no less. There’s nothing to expect there, and it lives up to that expectation. A movie theater started flourishing in my last year there. Apart from that, there was nothing to do there.

After those 5 years, and even in between during Summer and Winter vacations, I was in various cities: Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore briefly. But I never did anything that I was unhappy about being unable to do when I was in Kharagpur.

Now, I am in Pune until the first week of September. I am in the training period for a job, and my weekdays are not free in any sense of the word. My weekends though, are free and I would like to use them well. And hence, this is a new series on this blog which will follow me around this city as I do the things I was unable to do in a town like Kharagpur. Some weeks this stuff is bound to be boring, but I will try to keep it as interesting as I can!


Last weekend, I visited the Art2Day Gallery in Pune to see the exhibition The Power of Point. The exhibition is a collection of ball point pen drawings by Sheil Sadwelkar. I read about it first in the Pune Mirror. The thing that intrigued me most about this form of art was that ball point pens are notoriously difficult to erase. In pencil sketches, and even in paintings, there is some margin for error. But ball point pen drawings completely remove this margin for error. The drawing must be right the first time, or you must start all over again. That is a great sort of finality, and I wanted to see what the subjects of these drawings were and how they affected me when I saw them.

(Note: I am not an art buff. This caught my eye and I decided to go.)

The walk from the place I stay to Art2Day was pleasant and took me through some quiet parts of Pune. It was about 4 pm and there was a slight drizzle. I went right in front of the Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce’s front gate (I think it was the front gate)

The drawings were really good! I was completely taken aback by the detail and intricacy in each of the paintings. Three paintings really caught my attention.

The Final Destination

This particular painting had a road that wasn’t visible after some distance. It disappeared behind a mountain of some sort. This appealed to me as such an appropriate analogy for daily life! Everyday, the problems that I face in that day, week or month seem like the largest I have ever faced and will ever face. A few months down the line, everything seems to make a lot more sense. In general, it’s like that famous quote: “Life can only be understood in retrospect, but you must live it in the other direction”

I was unable to find an image of this painting!

Plastic Bonsai, Candyfloss River

Throughout several of the drawings, the common thread is the use of parallel lines to suggest density. For example, the ground is densely packed with vertical lines in the background, and over that the subject is drawn, roots in these paintings with trees. And as the ground reaches sky, the densite of these vertical lines reduces and suggest the beginning of air. This is absolutely mesmerizing to watch, because the first time I saw these drawings I didn’t even notice these in the background. Only on close observation did I realize that the effect of these lines was perceived automatically and there was no conscious effort required to think about them! FREAKING AMAZING!


Eyes One, Eyes at Visarajan

Another trick that pervades all of the art art these small curves that seem to be connected. They are clearly visible in any of the paintings with trees where the density of leaves and the suggestion of being hollow or filled is shown clearly using the density and the closeness of these curls. In some places they are small and dense, whereas in other places they are farther apart and create the near-solid background in some drawings.

Apart from the paintings mentioned above, I especially liked Fuji Bypass and Fallen in Love as well.

The exhibition ended today. So, I can’t really tell you to go see the paintings this time. The exhibtion is sure to continue somewhere else. If you are ever in the city where these paintings are being shown, definitely find a way to see them! It was a great experience!

P.S. Some of the paintings can be found online here.