A post-graduate in Commerce and self-taught artist, Prashant Prabhu (born 1972) of Mumbai has been a full-time painter since 1994. Being self-taught and full-time was difficult but it helped him to evolve without the direct influence of any ‘teacher’. “It is a well known secret that masters in bigger art schools,” he says, “take under their wings the best talent they can find and mold it in their style and philosophy. And most students are proud in that role. I did get guidance from the renowned portrait and realist painter Vasudeo Kamath. He is more into oils, acrylics and pastels and exhibits conceptual realistic painting and portraiture – for which he has been awarded the world over. But…I am a landscape painter and paint only in watercolour. So, in essence, he is a ‘guru’ who nudges and prods me to work in my individual way and shows no interest in molding me. I could never paint a portrait even half as good as my landscapes.”
Prashant takes landscape to be the composition of a scene “in front” or “in reference”. “Painting atmosphere or light, playing with form and texture are the cliché phrases one hears while discussing landscape,” he continues. “My view is that the tools and techniques being used in painting should not be the primary concern of the artist. For me, the main objective is to paint a composition in a minimalist mode. It is my vision and idea that is my signature, not really my style.”
The art of landscape, thinks Prashant, has got an immature/non-serious tag and, for this, landscape artists themselves are responsible. According to him, the genre has stagnated. “The impressionists were rebels,” he remarks, “but if we ‘follow’ them still, we are not much of rebels, are we? So, without thinking myself to be a ‘traditional’ rebel, I wish to paint landscapes that are ‘not landscapes’.”
Prashant believes that art should be created fundamentally for the sake of creativity. He elaborates: “When someone acquires my artwork, I don’t want them to just buy another picture postcard of some place they saw or remember nor do I want them to buy a piece of memory. I wish the collector buys it because it is an addition to what is beautiful to their home or life. And that is, in my sense, the purpose of the artist. Though I respect the art activists who aim to create or start movements against the problems in society, I beg to differ in terms of the logic behind the enterprise. An artist whose aim is merely to challenge the status quo is more of an activist and they are just using art to reach a certain goal. Many authors use their pens (or keyboards) and several painters and sculptors use their materials mainly as an outlet for their dissent and angst. There’s nothing wrong with that…except that art is not in the prime seat.”
Prashant’s simple and pleasant paintings are categorised under “City”, “Land” and “Water”. A sense of serenity pervades them all. “In this modern chaotic world, for me,” tells the water-colourist, “the refuge offered by art is better than one more war. After dabbling a bit in paintings with a message, and feeling uncomfortable with it, I felt like being back at home in landscape. Beauty and peace, meditative calm are what I like to impart to the viewer. And as a follower of the Buddha and Osho, and being a bit of a meditator myself, I honestly feel that (I know that this sounds trite) change is within. And society is made of all of us.”
More on Prashant’s website (www.prashantprabhu.com), Saatchi Art (www.saatchiart.com/praprabhu), Artfinder (www.artfinder.com/prashant-prabhu), Mojarto (www.mojarto.com/artists/prashant-prabhu), Artflute (www.artflute.com/artists/view/prashant-prabhu), Facebook (www.facebook.com/prabhu.prashant) and Instagram pages (www.instagram.com/prabhuwatercolours). Here I have selected five paintings from each of his three categories. He has recently executed similar watercolours of Russian landscapes.