Ranjan Kaul’s art speaks of the lives of the ordinary. He brings out stories of people around him, very simply. The characters in his works are real people around him, like a rickshawala waiting for his customers or a group of card players immersed in a game… And through his style, he brings out the dilemma and mood of each of these characters, almost as if a story was being told.
A self-taught artist, who started painting very early in life, Kaul has been selling his works only to closed groups, till now. His first art exhibition comes up in November 2017 at New Delhi.
Can you elaborate on your creative process? Does an observation stay in your mind or do you immediately start working on it?
It all begins with an idea or image. At times, an image leaves a powerful impact on me. Or, it may only register somewhere in the subconscious. I seldom begin working on any idea immediately. It may linger in my mind till I become restless. While working on the canvas or writing for that matter, I allow my impulses to take over, so the finished work can be different from what I visualized or imagined.
The depiction of everyday life has often been ignored by mainstream art. You are in a way bringing it again on canvas. Has this been a conscious effort?
What you say is largely true. But this is also true even for figurative art in general though the genre has seen a resurgence in recent times.For myself, I paint what makes an emotional impact on me. I’m moved by the mundane lives and the humdrum existence of ordinary people. My painting is a projection of my feeling.
Since you were drawn towards the arts from an early age, was there any moment when you decided to take it seriously? Please elaborate.
I’ve been drawing and writing from an early age. During school and through college I got quite involved with theatre. I tried to pursue it even when I joined publishing. It was during the rehearsal of a play that I realized that an interactive creative pursuit was not suiting me. I then decided to pursue individual creative pursuits which did not involve working with other people.
Artists find solace in painting and use this as a medium of expression. What is your view on this and how do you use this medium?
In my art I express what I experience when I observe the lives of ordinary people. It saddens me. I paint more to confront and depict this reality than as an escape or consolation.
I realized it was a mistake to have chosen engineering while I was at IIT. So completing the course was a struggle. Pursuing my interests in the arts alongside kept me going. I enjoyed my career in publishing but even through those years, I felt the strong need to simultaneously pursue my interests in writing and painting. I paint or write depending on my mood and the nature of the idea or inspiration.