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Updated: October 19, 2012 16:57 IST

Paint, posture, physique

Talha Ehtasham
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Flexible fitness: Niladri Paul.
Flexible fitness: Niladri Paul.

Artist Niladri Paul on not having fixed meals and the exercise equipment that follows him everywhere!

When he begins talking about food, artist Niladri Paul sounds fervent about his love for South East Asian cuisines like Cantonese and Malay. He traces his love for cooking and food to a friendship in his childhood. He recalls that it was a Chinese friend who ran a restaurant in his hometown of Jamshedpur who introduced him to the cuisines and styles of the Orient.

While the love for food has lasted, he admits that constraints of time and health do not let him indulge his taste buds as before. Hereditary diabetes has made him “very particular” about his food and “oily, salty and spice heavy” foods are now off the menu.

The trained artist calls painting his primary medium and, as a result, spends close to eight to 10 hours a day in his studio when he is painting. These long spells take a toll on his back, he admits, because of the constant standing and since sitting is “a very rigid stance” for him. He tells us, “Because my medium is that of acrylic I must be there to make changes and adjustments on the go. Acrylic paints dry up faster and there is a time constraint unlike oil, which can stay there for a couple of days. So I have to stay put if I want to change something.”

Niladri breaks the monotony by making sure that he takes a break every two to three hours, when back exercises come handy, and he keeps small snacks like a whole-wheat sandwich to accompany him occasionally.

“My schedule is such that I do not eat fixed meals,” he says. Further probing reveals that he hasn’t done so for “years now” and instead fuels himself with small, power-packed snacks like dalia (broken wheat) or sandwiches every two hours. “I do not even eat much at parties and gatherings,” he laughs.

While he earlier had a home gym at his call to take care of physical exercise, Niladri says he’s done away with it and instead manages to keep fit with light work, yoga and exercises using his own body weight. This takes care of “building some muscle” and is one piece of equipment he says that “goes everywhere” with him!

For Niladri, painting is essentially linked to stability of mind. Years of painting have resulted in a “synchronisation of body and mind” which he says have made each of the long, fluid stokes that he is known for in his work as easy as “clicking the shutter on a camera. You hold your breath and press the button. Same with painting.”

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