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Artists, Art Students Marvel at Ompal Sansanwal’s Jiva Paintings

In Arts, News
May 06, 2024

Artists and art students alike had a mesmerising tryst with Ompal Sansanwal’s paintings on display at his ‘Jiva’ exhibition in Bikaner House here, leaving them wonderstruck at the way the artist brought alive his close connect with nature through his intricate and magical works.

Students from Jamia Millia Islamia University accompanied by Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Prof. Bindulika Sharma, and Delhi College of Art faculty and students went around admiring the 60 paintings on display. To their delight, they had the company of the artist himself and curator Uma Nair, who explained the concept behind the artworks. That happened on May 1.

Manisha Gawade, well-known curator, artist and author, was full of praise for Ompal’s paintings. Standing in front of a painting that has a herd of cows with a tree in the foreground and a cityscape in the backdrop, she marvelled at the manner in which he had juxtaposed the scenery of the city along with the village elements.

“So, when you look at the cows you know he has taken the scene from a village, and the manner in which he has juxtaposed a village with a cityscape and then woven in the surreal elements…. You cannot do this unless you have had very deep understanding of time and space,” she said.

Shabir Hussain Santosh, the son of late eminent artist Ghulam Rasool Santosh, described Ompal’s paintings as ‘outstanding.’

Shabir recounted Ompal’s admiration for his father and said he has known the artist from his days in the Delhi College of Art. “He’s a very simple man. He’s changed a lot, in the way he has been able to come out of the very heavy influences (artistic). Now he has his own distinct style.”

He added: “His work is like dedication; it is so minutely done. His cross hatching with pen, his very fine detailing, it is outstanding, and it has an Indian character,” said Santosh.

Prof. Bindulika Sharma, Dean of Jamia Millia Arts Faculty, brought along her students to see the exhibition.

“I really wanted my students to see this exhibition, they are all researchers. I wanted them to see the effort that Ompal has put in his works,” she said.

“I know him personally. When we were in the College of Art, he would play on the matka while singing ragini (folk style of singing). He would sing, as if his soul was radiating out. That feeling is reflected in all his works here. The instrument he used then was a matka (earthen pot) and it was close to nature, and Ompal was always inclined towards nature,” she added.

Curator Uma Nair said: “Ompal’s love for the universe, his reflections in solitude and his love for tales from Indian mythology all tell us we must love what we paint. His power of observation and his understanding of Renaissance Masters are deep and he has created his own conversations with time.”

The exhibition, from April 27-May 3, was hosted by Black Cube Gallery, which marked its debut at Bikaner House with Ompal’s paintings.

The exhibition, designed by Black Cube Gallery director Sanya Malik, coincided with the celebration of Earth Month in April.

‘Jiva’ was inaugurated on April 27 by Ratish Nanda, renowned Indian conservation architect and CEO of Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), who also launched Ompal’s book ‘Meditations on Trees’ penned by Uma Nair, and published by Black Cube and Aleph Books.