Artist Interviews

An Artist Charan Sharma

Charan Sharma’s art must be understood from three different angles, all of them related to his life. First, his birth in a family of temple artists in Nathdwara, where paintings are the offerings to the god Srinnathji, a form of Krishna. Here we have a powerful bond between devotion and the process of producing a work of art which stood him in good stead when he chose to shift that devotion to aesthetic principles he had internalized over the years and not an external image. That is why he can say today with understanding, “Buddhas are not objects of worship, but mirrors of our innermost being…” Indeed this journey from the “dark hero of the Yadavas,” the legendary Krishna, as D.D. Kosambi described him, to the ascetic prince of the Shakyas was not such a long one as Krishna is the only god who actually dies. A human center of devotion as opposed to a divine one allows Charan to express himself more freely and with familiarity, especially when the image of the Buddha is replaced by the forms of young monks. This imagery of the young monks brings us to the second angle his work can be looked at from. He was born in 1950, the year India became a Republic, outstripping countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand which remained dominions, not even going as far as the USA that broke free of Britain much earlier. The India he grew up in was a place where social justice came in as a legal force with reservations for dalits predating US civil rights legislation by two decades. Despite the survival of the old, the new was taking over. The blend of an old culture and a young vision can be seen in many different works of his. The third angle of his work that strikes one is his concern with aesthetic principles in the execution of his works. They are neither mere devotion nor just an expression of a boisterous young world. They are well-executed works of art. Indeed, the artist F.N. Souza, not known for lavishing praise on fellow-artists, described him as “one of the ten best artists of this country” in 1989. The basis of his choice was the manner in which the artist had managed to blend his early exposure to art as devotion with the yearning of a newly independent country for enlightenment and a trained hand that puts together his concerns with the past and the future. In this exhibition he has blended the form and figure, drawing and sculpture, in a very effective putting together of the non-figurative Shaivite tradition of the lingam with the figurative tradition of the Buddha’s head. Few artists are as accomplished with technique as he is. Charan is far away from gimmickry. And indeed, his best works are “true masterpieces” as Souza described them

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