It has been a long journey from England to Kodaikkanal for John Maurice William Roberts better known as Adam Khan. A cinematographer by training, he works with BBC. His overwhelming passion for art took him on a tour of many countries, during which he met his art guru in Italy. Initially he painted only water colours as they were easier to carry. “I would just give a colour wash on the paper and project my emotions on it,” he expands. The outcome was some ethereal paintings.
“I don’t use my brain when I paint, I only transfer my feelings on the paper or canvas,” says Adam Khan. He had his first show in Sudan and then in Nairobi. He reached India along with the refugees from Uganda during Idi Amin’s rule. He spent time in North India studying Vedanta, learning Yoga and also went through Vipasana Yoga at Nasik. When he went to Shivamoga for a darshan of Sridhar Swami, the latter had been in meditation underground for some time and passed away.
How did he become Adam Khan? A swami at a temple in Agra, where he spent a few months, suddenly said, “you are Adam Khan.” Now he has both his original name and the new one in his passport. He organised a show of his works in Nasik at a municipal hall for earning some money for further travel, part of which he was planning to donate for charity, but had to face some trouble getting permission, pay the rent, etc. Finally he made three times the money he had hoped for.
Inspired by Kodai
Khan was attracted by the quiet beauty of Kodai, when he arrived and has made it his domicile for the past 35 years. He created a garden there, which some people call a magic garden – paradise. “I see it as my life,” says Khan and adds “therefore I paint how I see life every day. Colours and scenery keep changing and Nature has been my Guru.” Adam classifies his work as ‘Impressionistic Realism’ — “juxtaposition of light and form is the essence of my art.”
Earlier Khan used to paint different subjects, including wild life. But for many years now, his garden has been his inspiration with all its flora and fauna. Sometimes even wild animals pass through now and then. He gave up the brush because he didn’t want anything to come between his hand and the canvas. The tactile feeling gives him the feeling of being part of universal conscience. Khan uses mainly red, green, blue and yellow representing the four natural elements and the fifth of course is ether. ‘Paradise Lost’ — his latest — depicts the passage through his garden to his neighbour.
He was so angry and upset when they brought the earth mover to create a road through his garden. However, he managed to prevent it. The result was the Red Hot Poker,’ which he painted in just two hours.
He has captured the bison walking through his garden in two works. In some paintings one can see small human forms or angels which he calls the spirits of the garden. Painting directly with fingers has in no way affected the overall impression of a flowering plant, creepers on trellis or the bushes. They sort of take the viewers into his “paradise.”
His oil on canvas paintings on show at the Varija Art Gallery in Dakshina Chitra have been created specifically for the purpose and is titled “Paradise Lost.” The show is on till October 28, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.