Reflections on ‘the Indian’ in Vikash Kalra's Landscapes


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Artist Vikash Kalra's oeuvre of art is an engagement with the importance of boundaries and the modernists. He extends his vision to the mastered lines demarcating the presence of a form on flat-surfaces, where he visually pays his tribute and critically voices his position in the arts of today. While his practice is an art of invoking the past, Kalra's engagement with the landscape genre is an act of extending the image of India's rural sceneries. He also voices his personal journey through India and his experiences as a firm spiritual believer. And, in the act of creating these abstract imageries, he is able to draw out the rustic fertility that is essentially representative of India and its spiritual core. Interestingly, his impressionistic landscapes capture the essential colours and geometric shapes patterning Indian aesthetic and culture in the most vivid fashion, almost coaxing his viewers to keep looking at the metamorphosis that the genre of landscape art has undergone and is, still, in the process of transforming.

It is said that the landscape genre originated in 6th century China and it paved the way for landscape genres of the European renaissance and gained importance during the romantics. The genre was further subgenred in three categories; namely the picturesque, the pastoral, and the sublime. In each of these categories, there was a need to lay out the land, especially to reflect on the rise of urbanisation during the enlightenment period and the industrial revolution. Mathematical advancement during the renaissance had already created a strong language of visual reasoning and, with the advent of industrialisation and the enlightenment period, there was a need to spiritually relocate the divine in nature. Therefore, the landscape genre had always been a metaphorical allegory for the spiritual, or portrayed the inclination towards religion, and the beauty in nature was, often, a point of philosophical repose.