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PLEIN AIR PAINTING WITH VIKRANT SINGH RATHORE

Despite commanding his presence in the checkered world of data analysis and corporate living, his soul resided in the multifarious hues of art. He was leading a team of data analysts for ABN Ambro and Bank of America when he realised he was missing something important in his life. Through all these years, his childhood […]

A beautiful Himalayan landscape.
A beautiful Himalayan landscape.

Despite commanding his presence in the checkered world of data analysis and corporate living, his soul resided in the multifarious hues of art. He was leading a team of data analysts for ABN Ambro and Bank of America when he realised he was missing something important in his life. Through all these years, his childhood curiosity about colours and the skill of their application hadn’t left him. But like most other people his age, he complied as the world around him treated this curiosity as a side hobby. After all, he hadn’t studied at Bishop Cotton and SRCC to graduate into career options that weren’t lucrative. And thus, here he was. Until the everlasting conflict between his present career choice and inherent passion splintered into a radical shift, the time had come to give it all up and go back to the start, as an art student at the Delhi School of Art. Three years here, and he realised the futility of it all—art education too couldn’t withstand the forces of corruption and commercialization that had robbed it of any independent skill or creativity. So he turned to the masters such as Monet, Gerard, Klimt, Mucha, Van Gogh, Roerich, and Gaitonde and launched his artistic journey without turning back a single time. This is the story of how the artist in Vikrant Singh Rathore came into being. As Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage,” and there came a day in Vikrant’s life when he took that courageous leap away from his standard career choice to truly discover his artistic destiny. Ever since, he has traversed from a curiosity in realism to abstraction. But finally, in his bid to master the skills, he began painting landscapes in oil and watercolour.

“Nature, particularly the diversity and richness of Indian landscapes, particularly the Himalayas, became a muse who taught me more about light, shadows, colors, and sometimes even life lessons.” The landscapes of the cold Himalayan deserts, particularly Ladakh and Spiti, hold a very special place in my heart not only for their geological history but also for their ruggedness, abstraction, magnanimous formations, and the way that light plays through the day,” says Vikrant. It is this abstraction that Vikrant aspires to capture through his paintings, moving slowly from impressionistic to a more abstract style. His works reflect the mood that he captures and his own emotional experience while doing so. The dominant aspect of Vikrant’s artistic style is the 19th-century European style of plein air painting, or painting done in the outdoors, which was popularised by several impressionist artists from that era. “Trying to capture the light and impression of the landscape is challenging as every following minute changes, but it is also very fulfilling,” he adds. His experience with plein air painting has endured for years, be it on the beaches of Goa and Gokarna or the highlands of Spiti and Ladakh. His impressionistic vistas exhibit unabashed brush strokes and raw tones of texture.

The tightly gated art world and market in India contributed to Vikrant’s decision to go solo all the way, wherein he even funded his own exhibitions in India and Paris. The tremendous response he received was essential in his other pursuit that of challenging the popular notion of art being expensive. Vikrant sought to make art affordable, such that it was accessible to anyone who wished to possess an original piece of art. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Vikrant’s paintings hang all over the world, and several patrons of his work are first-time buyers. Even though art has the potential to support lives, sustaining oneself in a metropolitan city can be challenging for an artist, especially with the ever-rising cost of living. Thus, in 2014, with the twin motives of honing his art skills without any pressure to sell, Vikrant moved from Delhi to a small village in Himachal Pradesh. He continued to exhibit each year, and his travels within the Himalayas combined with plein air painting helped him discover a brilliant process that organically helped develop his unique style and expression. In the time to come, Vikrant hopes to travel to different parts of India with his easel, tracking the need to be inspired as the core of his creative process. “An artist must observe the inner and outer landscapes in equal measure, that which unfolds beautiful, the quintessence of life,” he concludes.

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