By Jigna Padhiar
Photography: Courtesy Dr. Sudhir Patwardhan
Internationally renowned artist Sudhir Patwardhan’s name is synonymous with art inspired by the city. Here, the radiologist turned artist, inspires in his thoughts and views.
A critic’s view way back in the early 1990’s reads, “In any discussion of contemporary Indian art the significant contribution of Sudhir Patwardhan is undeniable. He belongs to the openly eclectic generation of artists born in the 40's whose socio-political commitments seem to have been best realized in their work through figuration.”
A practicing radiologist for three decades, self-taught artist, Dr. Sudhir Patwardhan, held his first exhibition in 1979. He is most known for his cityscapes inspired from Mumbai and for his candid portrayal of the common man. His keen observations of the facets of daily life in the city form the crux of his work.
Palpability engages the viewer with his canvases as if in a conversational environment, speaking of common happenings; averring to their deeper underlying ethos. His visuals engage and impact, leaving an indelible impression long after one has moved away from them. Such is the depth of his passion.
Here, Dr. Sudhir Patwardhan shares his views with self-taught aspirants of fine art and hobbyists, who would like to step into the professional arena…
1. Having pursued studies in Radiology, what prompted you to pursue art practice.
Art was a passion since college days and I pursued it along with my medical studies and practice. Never felt that the two were not compatible; though it did take some management of time and discipline.
2. Does one need to be a born artist or can skill be acquired with practice, if one does not attend an art college?
One may have some genetic traits that would help in certain kinds of work, some aptitude. But it is impossible to know what traits will be useful for the particular kind of work that one may pursue. So it is best to concentrate on training oneself for the job! An art college is one such useful place, where one would learn the use of different media and techniques in a systematic way. All these aspects, a self-taught artist has to search for, on his or her own. An advantage is that he need not spend time and energy learning things he does not need. But there is much to learn outside of art colleges too; and much that most art colleges will not teach you.
3. Are there basics or skills that you think you might have learnt better had you attended an art college?
Yes, there are. Painting techniques, for example... One has tried to learn them from different sources like other artists, evening classes at art schools, books, and experimenting by oneself. (One is never entirely 'self-taught'.) One problem of learning these techniques at an art college is that they are usually transmitted as part of an 'academic' style, which then becomes difficult to shed. So I am happy the way I did my training - outside ‘Art College’.
4. Please share 2 do’s and 2 don’ts with a self-taught artist aspiring to become professionally recognized.
I personally consider it presumptuous to advise a young aspirant. The world is a vast ocean of knowledge. There is so much to garner from. I really don’t think I should be advising anyone. To each his own.