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Eyes, large and innocent, peeking with expectation or cloaked under a shadow. No matter what expression they hold, each acutely painted eye in Anand Panchal’s canvases will draw you and hold you.
Panchal’s paintings appear as a blissful narrative, set against a rural background. Beautiful, traditionally attired people and scenes of idyllic village life come together in artworks that stir nostalgia and longing for a fading way of life in rural India.
The paintings have a sense of intimacy and easy allure. It is perhaps this quality that makes Anand Panchal a much sought after artist. His artworks are owned by celebrities like Shankar Mahadevan, Riteish Deshmukh, and the late Jagjit Singh, and also find space in the private collections of art collectors across the world.
Memories of a Village
Throughout Panchal’s 20 years as a professional artist, and despite moving to the bustling city of Mumbai several years ago, it is his impressions of rural India and grassroots living that are repetitively portrayed in Panchal’s paintings.
(Beautiful painting by Panchal depicting rural life, available on Artisera)
“I come from a village in Latur, Maharasthra and it is the images from my childhood spent there, that I tend to paint,” says Panchal. Hailing from a family of carpenters with no artistic background per se, Panchal looked up to his grandmother who used to make puppets and dabble in traditional art forms.
“Like in other families that live in villages, art was not encouraged or seen as a viable profession,” says Panchal. “Nobody believed it could give you the essentials of roti, kapda and makan.”
(Anand Panchal at his Studio)
“As children, we used to have a fear of expressing ourselves. We used to look at professionals who visited the village in awe and wonder how they achieved success.” This look of wonder is seen in the many children that Panchal paints, eyes brimming with a hope.
Encouraged by his teachers at school, Panchal made the decision to pursue art. He joined the Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, Pune and then studied further at the prestigious JJ School of Art.
“It is amazing that today people in many villages look up to me, and ask me for advice on how they can pursue art,” admits Panchal.
A thought behind every brush stroke
Panchal’s resplendent palette is intensely Indian, much like the canvases of his beloved artists MF Husain, Amrita Shergill and Anjolie Ela Menon. Rich reds, blues and ochres harmoniously weave figurative and symbolic elements with abstract backgrounds.
When he observes the world around him, Panchal feels that we are losing touch with our basics. Therefore, his paintings are an attempt to preserve the simpler things in life – people mingling with cattle, and coy dynamic women looking out from behind doorways. “Female figures are portrayed often in my paintings; it’s a symbolic representation of my opinion that children are most influenced by their mothers.”
(The female figure center-stage in many of Panchal's paintings)
Spiritual and religious surroundings are hinted by vermilion smeared foreheads, and Lord Krishna makes an appearance sometimes, radiating calm with a flute and peacock for company.
Happiness through Art
Panchal’s canvases are an ode to happiness. “I like using a lot of colour. It is a conscious attempt to create beautiful art, which makes people feel happy,” says Panchal.
His philosophies transcend his canvas to the way he lives life, with positivity and simplicity. “You shouldn’t focus too much on your desires, as human want has no limits,” says Panchal. “So, I believe in focusing on enjoying whatever I am doing and giving my best to my creations; the rest will follow.”
With his latest work, Panchal is trying to incorporate more abstract elements within his work. He is experimenting with light, visual elements and adding drama. “I am still learning,” says Panchal. “I just want to continue working hard and stay true to myself, as that is what makes me an artist.”
A collection of Anand Panchal's paintings are available on Artisera.
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