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The world of art is filled with stories of artists who have fought against all odds, to find and live their life’s true calling. And Pune based artist Dinkar Jadhav is no stranger to that struggle. From growing up in a remote village to firmly establishing his name in artistic circles, his story is a reminder that it doesn’t always take magic to create a fairy-tale. With hard work, talent and an ever-positive attitude, one can go a pretty long way!
Dinkar Jadhav was born to farmer parents in Jadhav Wadi, a small village near Pune in Maharashtra, that has now been totally washed over by a dam built in the area. Even in his early days, creativity was a skill that Dinkar didn’t lack. “I used to make things out of mud, even before I knew there was such a thing as art! The local school in my village was very basic. We didn’t have notebooks, so we used chalk and slate while studying; I remember I used to draw on the slate more than I ever wrote!”, he fondly reminisces. It was only when Dinkar moved to a bigger school in a neighbouring village, that he was really introduced to ‘art’ by a drawing teacher. Recognizing his artistic potential, Dinkar’s teacher inspired him to seriously consider a career in the field.
The Start of an Artistic Journey
Driven by the dream that had taken shape in his mind, Dinkar Jadhav took the plunge and enrolled himself in an art college in Pune. It was in the library of this college that he discovered art from the West. Dinkar was moved by the works of English landscape painter J.M.W Turner and Dutch post-Impressionist Vincent van Gogh. Poring over their works for long hours cemented his resolve to become an artist, and their influence is very evident in Dinkar’s early works.
A painting from Dinkar Jadhav's 'Market' series, which was heavily inspired by European Art
Putting himself through college, however, was a struggle that Dinkar Jadhav faced alone. With his parents unable to afford his education, Dinkar had to work after college hours to make the Rs. 300 he needed monthly, to meet the expenses of city life. “I took up any art related job I could find, from painting idols to decorating temples. And the beauty of it is, that I was learning while earning,” he fondly remembers. He also worked on commissioned projects for architects and designers in those early days.
Dinkar Jadhav’s big moment came when he was given the chance to make an artwork for the Vivanta by Taj Blue Diamond Hotel in Pune. “The manager of the hotel asked me to create an artwork, on the condition that he would put it up in the hotel only if he liked it, and if not, I could take it back. When I presented my painting to him, his reaction was so encouraging that I can never forget it. He paid me Rs. 5,000 for that painting, which was more money than I had ever seen in my life, back then!”, says Dinkar. In time he grew confident in his abilities, and began earning enough to even support his family.
Dinkar Jadhav, working in his studio
An Expression of Emotions
Dinkar Jadhav’s artworks are instantly arresting, populated by strong animal characters, particularly horses and bulls. He is drawn to them for the strength that they represent, but more so, because they are a reminder of his agricultural roots, and his connection to the earth. The bulls, which Dinkar frequently paints, are an ode to his days in the village. His depictions are inspired by memories of ‘Pola’, an agricultural festival during which bulls are decorated and celebrated.
Dinkar first started painting horses after a visit to Mumbai, where he saw them drawing tongas (carriages) in the streets outside Victoria Terminus. Moved by the pathetic, restrained condition that these powerful horses were subjected to, he depicted their plight in his artworks.
A painting from Dinkar's Victoria series, depicting the pitiful conditions of horses drawing tongas in Mumbai
From that point on, horses became his muse, and Dinkar began portraying them in different ways to highlight their beauty and emotions. In sharp contrast to his earliest portrayals that were full of anguish, Dinkar decided to depict the horses as free creatures in later works, with the animals exuding a charismatic energy and passion, shedding all external pressures.
In Dinkar Jadhav’s 2017 series titled “Lust for Love”, the passion further gave way to love. Painted using gentler strokes and brighter colours, the horses in this series symbolize the undaunted quest of human beings, for the greatest emotion - love. Self-assured and carefree, the male and female horses reference the emotional attachments of humans in a manner that is subtle, yet eye-catching. And it is this journey of the horse, from anguish, to passion, to love, that makes Dinkar’s art so unique and captivating.
Carving a Distinct Identity
Dinkar Jadhav’s choice of subject has, unsurprisingly, led to many comparisons with M.F. Husain, India’s most renowned Modern master, best known for his magnificent semi-abstract horses. While flattered with the comparison, Dinkar wants to establish his own identity. “While M.F. Husain’s horses are attractive for their strength and free spirit, I’ve focused my depictions on the elegance and beauty of the animal, trying to show romance, passion and love in the expressions of the horses I paint,” he clarifies. Dinkar’s horses are often illuminated by the sun and moon, poignant symbols of eternal love.
Of Change and Versatility
A look at Dinkar Jadhav’s portfolio, and one can see how remarkably his style has changed since his early days. From thick impasto knifework on acrylic in his earlier works, that bear signs of his Western inspirations, to the wild animal energy of his newer pieces, rendered in sheer layers of paint that appear almost transparent, Dinkar Jadhav has experimented and evolved, which he considers a crucial trait for the creatively inclined. “I feel that if one is not constantly changing, one does not learn enough to become versatile. Look at music; the world appreciates a singer like Kishore Kumar because he is versatile, which is something we can’t say about every other singer,” says Dinkar. But no matter how much his technique and style change, the energy in Dinkar Jadhav’s art remains a constant, as does his expert play of light and colour, and the beautiful balance between realism and abstraction.
Left: Painting from Dinkar Jadhav's 'Market' series, done in his earlier style, Right: Painting from his 'Lust for Love' series, in his new style
Art for the Everyman
With all the success he has seen as a professional artist, Dinkar Jadhav has much to be proud of. His bag of achievements includes several auctions and solo and group shows at several prestigious galleries in India. He has also won numerous awards for his art, from institutions like The Bombay Arts Society and the Arts Society of India.
But Dinkar Jadhav’s outlook remains simple, his attitude humble, and his future plans, absolutely down to earth. “I want my art to reach ordinary people. The simple people from the villages, who work in fields and listen to Kishore Kumar. I want them to be able to look at my paintings and be moved, even if they don’t understand the world of art, and can’t buy my paintings. That is my ultimate goal!”, he expresses, with an innocence that is reassuring.
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