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Interpreting his world

Each of us is seeking the truth but we are not sure if what we find is really the truth. Sanjeev Khandekar's path to truth is through art. The artist talks to SHALINI UMACHANDRAN.

Sanjeev Khandekar...

HE is neither making a statement nor criticising modern lifestyle but he is trying to interpret the world he lives in. That's the simplest summary Sanjeev Khandekar gives to explain his latest collection of paintings, titled "Rumour of the Truth". "Everyone wants to change the world," he says, "but to do that you need to understand it. I just depict the world as I see it. Changing it is the next step."

His collection is called "Rumour of the Truth" because he says each of us is seeking the truth but is not sure if what we find really is the truth. "Science and technology has given us so much, but each time something new comes along to disprove earlier theories. I may see something as true but then I realise there are many paths to the truth and that what I discovered was just a rumour of the truth."

Sanjeev's path to the truth is, of course, through art. To him painting is a form of meditation. "It is the best way to express feelings — when you take a brush in your hand, you don't know what is going to happen. You may start with an idea of brightness — yellow maybe but that will turn to red and then to brown and contemplation."

He says each character on his canvases seem to have a life of their own and takes the shape it wants to. Phones, computer chips, RJs, pub-hoppers, sportspersons, techies, poets and environmentalists come together to help Sanjeev Khandekar distil truth from rumour and paint the world as it is. His work seems to depict the confusion, guilt, uncertainty and chaos of modern life. "I am not anti-technology, but while making life that much simpler, technology has also brought in feelings of monotony and disorientation." His "24-Hours music: radio FM" would be the best example of this. As with all his work, the canvas is divided into two panels, one depicting the material or human element and the other the subconscious. An RJ plays music on one panel of the canvas, "which is all around all the time but sounds the same, almost monotonous and depicted by the deep brown on the other panel," according to Sanjeev. However, his disfigured characters are open to interpretation. The figure in the painting could be a window-cleaner, a dishwasher, a carpenter, a barman or, of course, an RJ fed up with the routine of his monotonous, mindless work.

Painting is a form of meditation.

"Each painting has its own destiny. Just as I do not know what shape each character is going to take when I pick up a brush, I do not know how my work is going to be interpreted. And that is the essence of art — the more time you spend contemplating over it, the more meanings you will find. I may want to pay tribute to Kabir through a painting, but you may see something else."

"Rumour of the Truth" flits across history, science, technology, entertainment, environmental awareness and philosophy to show that "we are becoming increasingly dependent on outside factors and do not spend enough time with ourselves," says the artist.

In "Life under hoardings" and "The keyhole view of health club" he attempts to show that people no longer lead truly private lives in an open society and that they are "obsessed with figured and six-packs." Sanjeev uses soothing blues in "End of Abstraction" to portray the rather alarming idea that the divisions between the metaphysical and real worlds are being blurred by the invasion of computer chips. "We're living in a world where Google is the new God and we're coming to a point where the death of a search engine could spell the death of society," he explains.

"I am not judging the present or the past but am showing the world as it is today. I am merely looking into the many follies of man and reflecting the confusion and worries he feels. I hope my paintings will make people think and that eventually we will see the emergence of a super human race — not physically or intellectually but one that will have learnt from history," reasons Sanjeev. This thought is expressed in "Golden Jubilee of the Double Helix". Sanjeev's unusual chiaroscuro shows that present day mankind knows this race is going to emerge and looks to it with a mixture of eagerness, pride and apprehension and impatience.

"I myself am very impatient," he says with a laugh. "That's why I work with watercolours, I have so many ideas that I want to express instantly and water is the best medium for such impatience." Though Akbar Padamsey and Kolte inspire him artistically, and he draws ideas from many books and authors, he says there is no particular author whose ideas he has consciously assimilated in his work. "But every person should spend time with books and art. A truly cultural house is one with many books and paintings. That is my idea of the path to truth. Of course, it may not be true, but just a rumour of the truth."

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