I don’t see and paint but paint and see: Artist Prabhakar Kolte

He believes that seeing and painting is imitating, but when one paints first, what emerges is evolution. Prabhakar Kolte, one of the pioneers of the Indian Abstract art movement says that Abstract art opened for him the true freedom to see a painting the way he wished to paint.

“And being a teacher, I realised that Abstract art gives freedom and way of communication, so I kept discovering various ways of expression through abstraction,” says Mumbai-based artist, who after studying at the Sir J.J. School of Art also taught there.

Kolte, whose exhibition ‘The Mind’s Eye’ was recently organised at the newly opened Delhi-based Treasure Art Gallery (TAG), in which around 60 of his works were displayed and witnessed attendance by nearly 500 spectators, says, “The works were also projected on a huge screen outside the gallery, a novel idea which I quite liked.”

Smiling that he has his reasons for avoiding the media, the artist, who shuns interviews, “Well, most of them do not really want to see art and value it in terms of monetary benefit only.”

Talking about the “evolution” of his work does not really bother him, Kolte, whose work focuses on the intangible says, “This is a task reserved for critics and connoisseurs. I am happy with what I am painting. My involvement in art, my passionate reaction to artistic matters.”

Considered one of the finest art teachers in the country, Kolte, whose early works show a strong influence of Paul Klee, the Swiss artist and teacher, firmly believes that art schools should be converted into studios where students can discover creativity inside themselves.

Believing that it is high time that the teaching methodology at art schools be overhauled, he adds, “We need to do away with restrictions in art education. It is important that students be exhorted to think for themselves. That is most important. Yes, students do demand a change, but why are they not revolting? An artist must do that, no? They must fight for their right to learn.”

Currently writing a book on art, the artist remembers those who have left a mark on him and his work.

“Shankar Palsikar was a profound thinker, writer and speaker, and I was fortunate to follow him in different ways. Gaitonde came a few times to give lectures in our school. Although his ideas were not so easy to decipher, being in his presence was definitely thrilling. Later, I was fortunate to meet him in his barsaati studio in Delhi a few times. Slowly, I started visiting Tyeb Mehta and Akbar Padamsee, and discovered my expression,” he concludes, who in the year 2010 received the ‘Durga Bhagwat Award’ for his book ‘From Art to Art’ — a compilation of various articles on art.

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