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Vignettes on the Go

An Indian urban sketcher on what it means to be part of a global movement that encourages street art

I sketch; I always have. At 51, I realise that I have been at it for quite a long while now. My sketchbooks have been in various states of unfinished-ness, since I have never done a complete work of art meant to find its way onto the walls of an art gallery. In urban sketching, the state of the unfinished portrait is a vital aspect of the spontaneity it represents.

My sketches have always been done on location. The subjects have been people, architecture, streetscapes, or public interior spaces (railway stations, supermarkets or airport interiors), and the mode of documentation has been images ­accompanied with notes. Unlike the 19th-century bourgeois in a Rabindranath Tagore short story who envied his neighbour for having complete control over his violin (as if it was his lover), I have no such reason to be unhappy. I have a natural talent with and control over certain ­instruments of art. For me, these are my drawing pens, brushes, paint tablets, and sketchbooks. I have, for a long time, had a visual diary recording first-hand accounts of events and ­subjects from everyday life around me. These can be labelled as introverted pieces of work done in the solitude of crowded streets. I never ever had an occasion of glory to take the ­famous Camusian dictum seriously that “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street-corner or in a ­restaurant’s ­revolving door.”

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Updated On : 17th Sep, 2018


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