In a pretty gallery in Bhosalenagar, we met artist Kishor Randiwe. His paintings capturing the beauty of Himalayas were put up on the walls of Indiaart gallery and he was excited to tell us all about it. The most important thing that the Himalaya ranges have taught this 65-year-old painter, is understanding totality. “I have painted particular spots too, but I prefer painting the mountain range in totality. The mountains taught me what it is to be a whole,” says Randiwe.
The road less travelled
The Himalayas majestic beauty is mesmerising, but the road you must take to witness it can be quite dangerous. There can be landslides, storms and what not. “Kedarnath is a beautiful place to visit, and a little further is Panch Kedar. We were on our way to Tapovan, close to China border, when the army officer made us get down from the vehicle because we did not have identity cards. We figured things out and got on the vehicle again, but as we drove ahead, we heard a gushing sound. We knew there was a storm coming and pulled over on the side. After a minute, we realised that the sound was actually just the sound of us breathing. Such was the silence in that area,” says Randiwe, animatedly adding, “It was a fantastic experience.”
Randiwe went whenever and wherever he got a calling. “Wherever I would go, mother nature used to show me her beauty, her grace and her power. I saw her many moods, each one tinted with a different colour,” he says.
Reminiscing about his experience in Badrinath, he says, “My wife and I were stuck in Badrinath for a couple of days because of a landslide. I suggested we go the Mana village near the Indo-Tibet border and experience the Saraswati Falls. Since everything in India has a stamp of the Pandavas, we found a natural stone bridge aptly called Bheem Pul. There was a 1500-ft drop and the temperature was minus one degrees. We stood there and watched the river Saraswati in the biting cold. It looked like thin spring from far, but when we went nearer, we got drenched in its spray. There were hundreds of rainbows coming out of the river, it was amazing. When we sat down for some snacks, a 75-year-old man turned to us and asked if we were insane to risk our lives for the view,” says Randiwe, adding, “The old man became a friend. He will turn 100 this year.”
Having a dialogue
Randiwe trained under the celebrated painter G S Haldankar for eight years. “My guru, the great master Haldankar, told me that he had been painting for 60 years, and his father was painting for 40 years before that, so I had the opportunity to learn from the 100-year legacy that the Haldankar family was offering to me. And, I had to make the most of it,” says Randiwe.
“He told me to go and draw a tree in Hanging Garden. So I went, I saw and I drew. When I came back and showed him my work, he asked me an intriguing, paradigm shifting question — he asked whether the tree spoke to me. Bewildered I said that it did not. So he told me to go back and speak to the tree first, only then it will speak to me. Once I know the tree’s story, then I will be able to do justice to painting it. I obeyed him and in the process, I understood the ‘a,b,c’ of art. I understood the importance of sitting down and contemplating about the subject, trying to absorb the feelings,” he adds.
Experiencing the colours
Randiwe then tells us about his guru before Haldankar. “When I approached Shankar Palshikar to teach me art, he asked me whether I want to be a yogi or a painter. To give you some context, I used to dress like the stereotype back then. I told him that I want to become a man first. He accepted me as a residential student,” says Randiwe.
He adds, “He used to send me to the port at midnight. I could only see the vast ocean before me and the open skies above. Just before dawn, there was a beautiful silence. So much so that you could even hear the first ray of light pop into the sky. It would struggle to make way for itself in the engulfing darkness. Then from one ray, it became two, then three and so on. You could feel the light brightening up the sky in a rhythm. For three and a half years, I absorbed this experience and studied the juxtaposition of light and sound.” Randiwe claims that the most important lesson he has learnt as an artist from his teachers and his experiences is that ‘art is ambiguous, like mercury, even if you want to touch it, you can’t’.
ST Reader Service
An exhibition of Kishor Randiwe’s paintings titled Himalayan Odyssey is on at Indiaart Gallery, Bhosalenagar, till Friday, July 7, from 11 am to 8 pm. Entry is free.