Nature, paint, tranquility – the creative journey of artist Suresh Pushpangathan
In this photo essay, we feature artworks from the India Habitat Centre, along with artist insights on learning from nature, travel, and even mistakes. Read, enjoy, share!
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 670 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
The Visual Arts Gallery at New Delhi’s India Habitat Centre recently featured the exhibition The Treasury of Tranquility, with the works of nature lover and artist Suresh Pushpangathan. The paintings will also be on display in the city at Anandpur House this month.
“I had my first exhibition 20 years ago. The current exhibition features two years of my recent works,” Suresh explains, in a chat with YourStory.
His works have been featured earlier at Gallery Time and Space in Bengaluru, Rukshaan Art in Mumbai, and Baroda Art Fair. Some of his artworks are priced from Rs 15,000 to Rs 3 lakh.
“Impressionism has influenced my art processes as well as the series of my artworks,” he adds. Suresh paints in oil and acrylic, with themes in between real and abstract. Some of the pieces took three months to complete, he describes.
“Some of my paintings are rustic, others are melancholic,” Suresh says. His works have been displayed in around 30 group exhibitions and eight solo exhibitions.
“I lived in London for two years as well. I painted bridges and rivers, combining nature and architecture,” Suresh recalls. He also curated an exhibition of Indian artists in London.
Suresh graduated in 2002 from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, followed by the University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK. He was mentored by Akumal Ramachander, who was credited with the discovery of American abstract expressionist Harold Shapinsky.
“I feel a certain rhythm in nature when I try to observe it. It has its own diverse moods that are reflected in the form of vibrations,” he describes. The interplay of light and colour shines through clearly in his artworks.
His fondness for nature began in his childhood years in Varkala, Kerala, an area dotted with backwaters, lily ponds, and seascapes. His father was also a sculptor, and one of Suresh’s displayed artworks is a painted trunk.
His paintings, some of which are showcased in this photo essay, are titled Peace, Vision, Trance, Colourburst, Echo, Flutter, Mirage, Reflection, Balance, and even Kingfisher Lookout.
The rural landscapes of Kerala feature prominently in Suresh’s exhibition. Viewers will observe the influence of impressionists like Claude Monet. The aptly-named exhibition captures the serenity and harmony of a childhood spent in the lap of nature, with images of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies.
“Suresh’s three-dimensional paintings are an immersive theatrical experience where one cannot help but feel one is an integral part of the artist’s pictorial space,” curator Jaya Mani explains. Based in Bengaluru, Jaya founded the initiative Dravidam to promote South Indian art.
When asked what’s next in his artist journey, Suresh says the theme and style will emerge. “Travel is a trigger,” he says, describing his artistic journey.
The path of an artist is full of twists and turns, ups and downs. “Mistakes will happen – let them happen. Otherwise, art work would be monotonous,” Suresh explains.
“I use my mistakes to get something new. It influences how well I can play with the palette,” he adds. “When you make what seems to be a mistake, leave it for a while – answers will emerge,” he suggests.
“New layers emerge, and something happens which you did not plan,” Suresh affirms. He also cites artist Gerhard Richter, known to ‘smudge’ some of his paintings while finishing them.
Suresh calls for more art appreciation in Indian society, right from childhood years. “In Western countries, people take children to art galleries and museums, where they observe artists on easels painting the works of masters,” Suresh explains.
“It helps to see not just art, but displays of live art,” he adds.
The pandemic was a tough time for many artists, though some found opportunities in new ways. “During the pandemic, I spent time on sketches and drawings. I also completed a few commissioned works,” Suresh recalls.
His wife is also a painter, in figurative art. “I give my daughter some paper to paint while I myself paint,” he jokes.
He also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Be prepared for the struggle. Stick to your passion. It helps to have a side income till things stabilise,” Suresh signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?
(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the gallery.)
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti