From Karjat, a place lodged between Bombay and Pune, Parag Borse has been creating masterpieces in oil, water and soft pastels that have been grabbing international headlines since 2002. Interestingly, this artist is neither a conceptual creator nor does he believe that themes and thoughts are sacrosanct to the process of creation, yet, the moment he begins to share his perceptions of painting, one meets an exceedingly cerebral artist whose ideals and principles, observations and sensitivity have propelled him into the orbit of the most intelligent artists of our times. In 2013 he won the Ruth Richardson award for brilliant pastels. In 2014, he figured in the world list of top 100 water colourists. Pastoral Senility by Parag Borse made it to the ongoing 47th international art show by the Pastel Society of America in New York, yet, this iconic artist with many more milestones, who spends lot many hours each day, lost in pristine nature, soaking in the beauty of greenery, enjoying the music of birds and the song of the wind, says that he nurtures absolutely no plans for the future!
Born into the lap of nature, in Karjat, surrounded by some of the oldest mountains of this world from the Sahyadri Range; his earliest paintings were all recreations of nature. However, after many years of painting rivers, streams, mountains, trees and so on, he began painting human forms and characters who he felt had become one with his favourite muse. At some point, he found himself drawn towards the rustic charm of the rural Indian, whose skin tones are similar to the play of light and hues in nature, beaten by sun, wind and water; who wear costumes that are vibrant like the feathers of the different types of birds one finds; whose responses are spontaneous and candid and not embellished by the ways of the world. Enamored by their simplicity, most of his latest works capture them in all their vibrancy and shades of existence. They could be farmers, cattle-grazers, water bearers, tribals and others but they continually captivate the heart of this young painter when most others are lost in the illusory charm of the word ‘abstract’. His men with flowing beards, dark moustaches, bright turbans and his women with their bucolic magic, have pitched him a space in the hearts of the sophisticated across the world. However, he says, “the cultured society is suppressed and spontaneity of expression and appearance is a luxury in the cities”.
Having schooled in the local village school at Karjat, he moved over to Mumbai to do his BFA at the JJ School of Art, quite contrary to the expectations of his family and teachers. From 2002 until this time, he has been creating paintings in oil and soft pastels which give him the freedom to express himself without many technical difficulties. While portraying his rural subjects, he says it is the soft pastel that has been most handy to work with mainly for their vibrancy.
“I don’t believe that concepts or thoughts ought to be the foundation on which great paintings are created. I believe thoughts are limiting in nature and that painting is something that travels far beyond the reach of thoughts. It is not what is born in thoughts, rather it is what stops or arrests the thoughts that I consider painting”. Painting to this artist, like many others is an inner transaction or negotiation. He paints that which his heart is drawn towards and hence does not spend hours or days conceptualizing as he believes that this experience of self-cessation is what he looks forward to create for himself and his viewers. He adds that this frequency of experience and indulgence is rarely achieved through concepts.
While a lot of painters of this generation strongly believe that it is important to incorporate art education into the regular curriculum at school in order to create art awareness, Parag sounds bohemian when he says that art is not something that can be learnt as it is a very intimate and personal experience!
So is formal art education in painting a prerequisite to becoming a hugely sought after artist? He says that becoming a famous artist and becoming a good artist are essentially two different things entirely. While becoming a famous artist is also dependent on one’s networking abilities, it is talent alone that decides whether one is a good artist or not.
From 2002 to 2019, he has been exhibiting in different parts of the Country beginning with the Jahangir Art Gallery and Nehru Centre at Warli in Mumbai, two of the foremost art galleries of the Country, where he has conducted solo exhibitions. This young artist has also conducted shows in Pune, Delhi, Dubai and the USA, both solo and group. That Thou Art, Parag's latest Show at the Jahangir Art Gallery was was hugely celebrated by media.
Sharing a few views on abstract and realistic paintings, he says, "both, the formless commonly called abstract and the realistic with an identifiable form are essentially born from form and they are the same". Their difference is commonly celebrated but perhaps to realize and appreciate the true beauty of art, what one needs is to cultivate sensitivity of perception which celebrates their oneness. He urges the young generation keen on taking up art to give up all kinds of preconditioning and to dive into the unknown, to develop within themselves sensitivity towards art. He adds, "dont try to become an artist to become famous or to obtain something, become an artist to soak in the magic of the moments of creation". He opines that painting is not just about splashing colours on canvas rather it is all about communicating through hues and forms.
The girl wading through slimy waters of the river, buffaloes bathing in the river, village men working in the fields are all some of the most poignant captures of this artist deeply in love with the pastoral beauty of a Country that has already made quantum leaps and marched onto the world platform at different levels as a leader of current times!