Artist Pramod Jagtap was born and brought up in Ahmednagar city which is a fabulous combination of urban and rural culture. His father was a police officer hence there was no artistic background in his family but they were free to choose their ways. He used to take interest in painters who paint sign boards and election boards in those days. His school teachers noticed the interest in arts and suggested that Pramod apply for admission in Arts College later. He got himself admitted in Rachana Kala College and then pursued further education from the J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai. And that’s how artist Pramod’s my journey began in the world of art.
What role does the artist have in society?
Art is not only meant to be entertaining especially these days it is the most effective medium to inculcate anything in society.
What art do you most identify with?
Art is a journey in which there are different stages. Right now though I am into portraits and landscapes.
What themes do you pursue?
It is difficult to choose a specific theme while painting a landscape. Each place gives you a different sensation in its own way. The same place looks different at different times, for example in the morning in front of a canteen the atmosphere is what it is not in the evening. The artificial light of the evening gives us a different sensation. Currently I am working on old buildings in the city as well as in the village where several people’s memories linger. The light falling on a dilapidated building illuminates every moment of their lives. That is why I have named my new painting series as ‘breathing lights’.
What is your favourite artwork?
There are so many artworks that captivate my mind. It is difficult to choose one of the many works of art presented to us by Indian and Western painters. I am also fascinated by a lot of artistic architecture. Be it the stone temples at Hampi or the caves of Ajanta-Ellora as well as the Sistine Chapel Church or the David of Michelangelo.
Describe a real life situation that inspired you.
There are a lot of occasions and individuals that have encouraged me to turn towards art. This is a journey. I have loved paintings since childhood but I never knew why. We used to live far from the main city; it was the remote point of our city. The population would decrease and farmlands would start where we lived.
In school we played games like cricket and football but when we were at home the scenario was different. I used to go to the adjacent fields to pick sugarcane, groundnuts and to go for swimming. There was a big mango tree in a nearby field. It was our daily source of happiness. The taste of sour green mangoes still lingers on my tongue. I used to spend hours there and sleep in the shadow of the tree. A few days later we went to live in our new house, it was a little far from the previous place, so we didn’t go to the fields for several days. Suddenly one day we went there and saw a terrible transformation.
There were buildings all over the area. ‘Is it the same mango farm where we used to play?’ It made me feel very uncomfortable. As a child, I used to draw little pictures, so I thought; it would be fantastic if I could paint a picture of my favorite place in my own colors. The pain of losing a place which had so many childhood memories attached was the reason why I started creating such artworks. That’s why a dark shadow is always a major part of my paintings. There are so many events happening in my life that make me feel good and encourage me to paint.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I constantly write something. I write poems and have written some songs. Some of them are recorded too. I also like to write plays and one-act plays. I have directed a short film. Currently I am writing a play. Along with this, I have also done art direction for many plays.
To me art is the most appropriate way to reach salvation.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
Life is a colourful journey with an uncertain end. Everyday is beautiful and different in itself.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
One day I heard two boys discussing over my painting.
First Boy: “Look! This artist – doesn’t he know the colour of a stone? Does stone look yellow?”
Second Boy: “That’s not Stone! That’s sunlight!”
First Boy: “Does Sunlight ever have a colour? Shadow might have once – Black”
Second Boy: “I am saying – That’s Sunlight. Ask the painter..”
And they asked me. I was so pleased to listen to what they were discussing. Both of them were right in their own way. I was able to make a seamless illusion in that painting which was properly balanced. That’s one of the best responses I ever received and it is the Mantra of life – Keep the sides of a coin balanced..
What food drink song inspires you?
I like all genres of music. I prefer listening to Sufi and Classical while working.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
No. I don’t think so. Art unites people and thoughts are exchanged. We are never alone while performing arts whether it is painting, dancing or any other art. I would say art is a great remedy for those who feel lonely.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Indian art is considered to be very prolific. The work of preserving the legacy of the most talented artists in the history of India has to be done by today’s artists and art lovers as well as the organizers of events.
Besides having such a great legacy there are chances of degrading our art; reasons may vary.
Various competitions are organized to encourage artists but these competitions are not controlled by any social or government bodies hence selection processes and parameters are sometimes improper.
People should be aware of the actual class of an art.
Opportunities should be given to newcomers.
There are repetitions of artworks in so many renowned exhibitions.
There are many other things like nepotism, corruption, lack of proper art education, uncontrolled art classes etc.
What do you dislike about your work?
I still draw realistic pictures and it takes me a lot of time.
Should art be funded? What role does art funding have?
Of course artists need financial help. Indian artists are always in a dilemma – to live for drawing or to draw for a living. If an artist who isn’t yet known gets financial help, he/she can focus on his skills and talents as an artist. Instead of focusing on commercial work, new creations will be made by him/her. New masterpieces will be created, which will give prominence to the culture of Indian paintings.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Every artist has a different world. Everyone has their own identity and the way of working is different so no artist can be compared to another one.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
I grew up in the company of a great painter A.G. Shekatkar Sir. He taught us numerous things which have been very useful for us throughout our life. We would use water colours in college. Whenever sir would come to give us a demonstration he would use students’ colours to paint and always be very upset with the dried colour boxes (C18 box).He would often say that a colour box should always be wet. We never understood his words and used to pour water on colour boxes. Once he saw us doing so and smiled. Then he told us a mantra of successful life – “Your colour box should always be wet means you should always be painting then you don’t need to add water to your box; the boxes will always be wet themselves”.
Professionally,what is your goal?
Representing Indian Arts on international platforms.
Creating a space where ordinary artists can come and perform. Make new creations. Where they can shape themselves and their careers. Where they can express freely.