Abstracts Of Realism

Updated: Sep 21 2003, 05:30am hrs
What makes Ketaki Pimpalkhares first exhibition in Mumbai special is that it is also her maiden solo. However, she is not new to the city. Ms Pimpalkhare, a Pune-based restaurateur, has been visiting the galleries here to check out the art scene.

The young artist is having an exhibition of her works at the Hacienda Art Gallery from September 18 till September 25. The show is titled Adimaya and includes about 30 paintings in oil on canvas. Ms Pimpalkhare defines the genre as abstract realism, saying the works are somewhere between abstract and real. So you have figures that emerge from waterfalls and riverbeds, all the faces driven by emotion. Each work conveys a different mood.

Ms Pimpalkhare and her husband own the Oasis restaurant in Pune, and she divides her time between the establishment and her interest. She studied Commercial Art at the citys Abhinav Kala institute, and took a Masters degree in Fine Arts from SNDT University. In the interim, she took up a job with an event management company, but felt that it was in art that her interest really lay. So she gave up her job to concentrate on painting.

Ms Pimpalkhare is interested in faces, more so the eyes. Her themes are often centred around womens expressions. As she says, she has a natural understanding of their emotions and their turmoil. My perception of a woman is that even if she looks calm and complacent on the outside, you never know what she feels deep down inside. It is like an ocean, you can never tell how deep it actually is just by looking at it. I place an additional focus on the eyes, which are like the windows to a persons soul.

The first time Ketaki Pimpalkhare got to display her works in public was at a group show in Pune. She got off to a good start right away. Her portrayal of an American Indian at the Monsoon 2000 exhibition was received well. The painting was done in acrylic on a burnt canvas, and was tied to the frame with rust-coloured ropes. The lady comments that while all artists play around with colours and mediums, changing the look of the canvas tends to bring a completely different perspective.

Despite all this experimentation, it is interesting to note that Ms Pimpalkhares strength lies in caricatures. Although her initial area of specialisation was oil on canvas, she shifted her focus to caricature when she realised that world is filled with humour and fun. Of course, it also requires insight. My first job as caricaturist was when I tied up with the organisers of a Bacardi party and sketched the guests there. The response was so overwhelming that I drew close to 50 faces that night. I stopped only because I ran out of paper! A number of assignments came her way after that.

While on the commercial side, an ice-cream parlour in Pune displays her murals and paintings, Ms Pimpalkhares interest in art extends to teaching, too. She conducts portrait workshops for children from the Sahyadri School and the Krishnamurthy Foundation. Five works of hers were donated to a charity organisation named Open Art Canvas.

She also participated in the Akanksha art auction, which was held in Mumbai last year. The Akanksha Foundation auctioned some paintings to raise money for charity. What I did was invite four street children home, put them in four corners of the canvas, and asked them to draw what they wanted! she says. They had a great time playing around with the colours, and I enjoyed watching them.