After his four-day solo exhibition, “Emotional Rescue”, ended on Sunday June 19, Yatin Kandpal returned to his studio that late evening more than contented. For the 37-year-old painter, who left a well-paid job in 2016 to pursue his passion, never knew his work would create so much enthusiasm among the seekers of art. “The reception my open-air exhibition got from both the connoisseurs of art and the customers visiting was more than expected,” said Yatin basking radiantly in the stupendous success his exhibition had.
Yatin (right), in conversation with fellow artist Asha Sharma
The four-day long exhibition, organised at iHeart Café at the sleepy village of Mehragaon on way to Bhimtal – about 15 km from district headquarters – saw a footfall of about 2000 visitors. Children, wannabe and accomplished artists, actors, senior bureaucrats, police officials, teachers and students, tourists and locals all came in droves to see the two-hour-long evening exhibition, keeping Yatin on his toes, discussing at length about each painting, with the artist giving live demos especially to children, even inviting them to give a shot at it.
“It was wonderful to see Yatin engage children showing them hands on how they can express how they view the world around them with the stroke of a brush,” said Asha Sharma, an artist herself.
Among a surprise visitor to his exhibition was none another than his teacher, Professor Zahoor Ahmed Zergar, former Head of the Department of Applied Art at Jamia Milia Islamia University. It was under Professor Zergar’s tutelage that Yatin grew from a raw hand, who could barely drew some sketches on art paper, to an accomplished artist that he is now. It was, in fact, Professor Zergar who discovered Yatin way back in 2005 when he had gone to Almora to attend a 10-day-long camp organized by Lalit Kala Academy where artistes from various parts of the country had come to participate.
The camp he attended at the prodding of one of his arts teacher proved a turning point, as it created an everlasting bonding both with the professor and with the brush. After doing Masters in Fine Arts, he followed Professor Zergar to Delhi in 2008 where he learnt the nuances of painting while watching closely his Guru working on canvas strung on the easel in his studio even while pursuing another Masters. After his stints with Prime Focus and the Central Institute of Educational Technology in Delhi, he packed his bags in 2016 to settle down in Bhimtal. “It is these mountains where I chose to put down my roots in the midst of nature which is my muse,” said Yatin waving his hands without any cares about the world at large.
“It needs a lot of courage to stay through what you believe is your calling. Yatin has done exactly that. In other words, he has rescued himself through his paintings,” said Professor Anne Feenstra, who curated the exhibition. “I will put his work in the realm of super-reality as he interprets realities of life through his paintings,” added the recipient of Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.
Take, for instance, the self-portrait he drew on canvas after his dog died a couple of years back, the centrepiece of the exhibition. He threw in some paws all over his face to express his loss. When you look at a landscape, a person, or a mountain, for instance, you interpret those elements of nature or objects through your work adding your own perspective to what you observe, using imagination.
So when he saw Nainital with its daunting mountain tops on three sides, half cut by forces of nature and half denuded by human intervention, he drew a painting that says all about it. We see the beautiful lake in its quaint pristine form with a solitary row boat in the middle and with no human intervention. The rich yet sauve colour tones he used to express his interpretation of the city he was born and brought up in forces you to take notice and brood over it.
“Yatin’s paintings reflect his emotional response to life around him. In some of his works, his brush strokes reflect expressionism and in others the dark shadows in portraits appear mysterious and loaded,” said Anupama Sharma, an artist from Rajasthan settled in Bhimtal, who had an exhibition with Yatin some years back in Mumbai.
His signature style is visible in the portrait of a girl venturing out of her home. She is cautious as she steps out. The use of a darker tone over her eyelashes and eyelids enhances the expression on those kohled eyes and face wear, conveying her fears, her wonderment, to the beholder. Those intense black eyes catch and transfix us.
The exhibition was part of a collective effort that Professor Anne, who is working on sustainable mountain architecture there, has put together with the help of Padmini Smetacek and some other local enthusiasts to promote local talent by helping them showcase their works, with iHeart Cafe providing a perfect setting. “It is all about giving value to our immediate community. We are trying to help artists like Yatin to showcase their talent,” said Tim Sebastian, owner of iHeart Cafe, visibly happy at the turnout during the exhibition. And it makes a lot of business sense as well for him.