Catch artist Amitesh Verma’s biggest horses at Mumbai show

September 1st, 2008 - 3:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) Amitesh Verma, one of the most talented line artists in the country today, has changed. And so have his horses. His power stallions on canvas now pack more punch and energy. Verma is going to showcase his horses in an exhibition called “Stallion Search”, featuring a body 20 horses in various stages of motion at the Jahangir Art Gallery in Mumbai Sep 9-19.

“Amitesh is the only artist among the younger contemporary lot in India who is drawing horses in charcoal on canvas and it is a very good form of expression. He is doing good works,” Gujarat-based senior artist Jeram Patel, who gave the Indian art scene a new visual identity and method of abstraction, told IANS over phone from Vadodara, who has been monitoring his work.

New Delhi-based Verma fell passionately in love with horses in 2001 when he started sketching them near the Delhi Race Course as part of his training to perfect the art of line drawing.

His horses take off on the ones drawn by Maqbool Fida Husain and Bengal-based artist Sunil Das, but differ in the sense that unlike them, Verma’s are not stylised.

“Sunil Das’ horses by far are still the best, but Amitesh is devoted to his subject. The way he uses horses as an imagery for human expression is unique,” said mentor Neeraj Goswami, one of the best contemporary artists in the country.

Verma draws them as he sees them - stark, raw and powerful. He is the only artist in the country today who uses charcoal and lead pencil to draw his black and white horses, unlike his peers who fall back on colours.

The 32-year-old gathers inspiration from classicists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Michelangelo, detailing the muscle and bone structure of his subjects; leaving all the superfluous and early lines on paper for the shapes to build up and stand out for themselves.

“I leave a lot of empty spaces, smudges and redundant lines, including flawed ones, to give it a manual feel,” he said.

This time, the artist has scored another first - he has drawn on mega-formats, some of his canvases being as big as 8 X 5 feet, which he claims is the biggest format ever attempted by any contemporary artist in the genre of line drawing in India today.

“Even a year ago, my lines were lighter. I was slightly low on confidence but I did not want sketches to show any surface grains,” Verma told IANS in an exclusive preview of his collection of horses at his residence. He had presented his works in Delhi last year.

His works, most of which have been sold, are priced between Rs.800,000 and Rs.1.2 million.

“Most artists have forgotten the art of sketching; I hardly ever come across anybody sketching these days. But there is an upside,” Verma said.

The artist has more then 1,000 horses in his kitty. The early ones make interesting studies. They are crudely drawn in charcoal on old newspapers.

“I did not even have the money to buy art paper. I took the news prints to the race course and practised drawing horses. It took me seven years to get the horses right,” recalls Verma, leafing through an old file of sepia horses in his minimal home-cum-studio on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border.

While his early horses are somewhat blurred and rounded, verging on frills, in his new canvases, the horses have grown transcending their muscled forms into huge galloping stallions. “Meditation and spirituality have broadened my horizon to connect to cosmic universality,” Verma said.

Love and loss have had a role to play in his growth as an artist. “I somehow feel that horses are connected to my past life - and in the evolution of mankind in general,” said the artist, who began as a calligrapher on a meagre subsistence of Rs.20 in the Chhapra district of Bihar.

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