Images from the other Goa

Kambli: penchant for the restless.  

SUN AND sand, fun and frolic, festivals and carnivals! That is Goa for many of us. But when you enter Gallerie Zen and view the paintings of the Goan artist, you hardly find reflections of any of these elements.

Hanuman Kambli, the genial pony-tailed art teacher from the land of nature's bounty, is holding his first solo in the Garden City.

Hailing from a small village in North Goa, Kambli completed his degree in Fine Arts from the Goa College of Art, where he presently heads the Printmaking Studio.

He has fond memories of Shantiniketan, where, tutored by masters such as Somnath Hore and K.G. Subramanian, he acquired his MFA in printmaking.

Kambli has held solo exhibitions in Goa, Delhi, and Bombay.

Outside the country, his works have graced the walls of the Wimbledon School of Art, London (1999), and Space Gallery, Western Michigan University, USA (1999).

Images from the other Goa

Winner of several awards, including the Lalit Kala Academy research grant, the Charles Wallace India Trust Art Award, and the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, Kambli has participated in a number of group shows, camps and workshops, both within the country and outside.

Even with these distinguished achievements, Kambli presents a picture of modesty, simplicity and humility.

"I come from a small village in Goa. My father served the Portuguese Army. When ordered to shoot an Indian, he refused point blank, gave up his job, and settled for a simple life, cultivating of paddy and cashew," says Kambli.

In the works at the exhibition, one recognises that his impulses are primarily focused on journeys that capture an "internal landscape" and the turmoil and restlessness brewing within. Simultaneously, his concerns are centred around the differing facets of human behaviour and relationships. "I observe the changing faces of men, their moods, conduct, and deeds."

"I recognise the duality and contradictions in their words and actions. I probe their good and wrong sides," says Kambli.

The present exhibition is titled Nag and Other Paintings. Obviously, snake is a powerful symbol for the artist.

In his paintings, he incorporates the entwining coils, curls, and spiral of a multi-headed serpent within the human body. On a parallel plane, there are multiple human heads of varying shapes, bearing uncharacteristic and even contrasting feelings and emotions, signifying degradation of human values and bemoaning the loss of innocence. There is a simmering discontent hidden in these images even as human frailties get somewhat exaggerated in some paintings. There is also a hint of irony in several works, but humour is something which is generally given the go-by.

The viewer perceives a portrayal of harsh (internal) realities in the works, and at the same time, appreciates the finesse and sophistication of their interpretation.

There is clarity in thought and skill in execution, a rare combination indeed, particularly if one sees the small format of the works.

His visual vocabulary incorporates mythical symbols in their modern day avatars, and also tries hard to stay clear of any decorative elements. How do his works influence his teaching and his students? "Influenced by Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurthy, I do not consciously impose anything on my students," says Kambli. "It is best to allow them to flower — each one his own way." The exhibition continues till the end of the month.