Wednesday, November 23, 2016




JAGDISH SWAMINATHAN ( 1928-1994) AND OCTAVIO PAZ  ( 1914-1998) ..

I feel privileged to have seen J. Swaminathan and heard him speak once . He looked like a Sadhu or Baba .No one could imagine him to be a painter .Long Unkempt hair, Chain smoker , Carefree lifestyle yet a fine conversationalist. He had enormous knowledge of world literature and Art. Later I came to know that he was among India's foremost modern artists. I was told that he was also associated with communists for some time but soon felt disillusioned and moved away.

He  went to The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland to study Modern Art .

Apart from painting ,Swaminathan wrote Poetry and established himself as a serious art Critic and a  writer.

Influenced by Rich Tradition of Tribal Art ,Swaminathan incorporated many  symbols such as the snake, the lingam, lotus, Trident (Trishula,), sun, Wild , Birds , Animals , Alphabets  ( Ka ), and the swastika, in his paintings. Quite often , he applied the pigment on to the canvas directly with his Fingers to achieve the desired effect. He also used Beeswax, sand, linseed oil and Natural Dyes  as the Mediums to Express his Creativity.

I vividly remember a news item that appeared in some leading National News papers in 2006.This news created sensation in the world of Art. At that time, Swaminathan's work 'Bird and Mountain Series' went for a whopping Rs.25 million at an Art Auction by Triveda.

J. Swaminathan as he was known world over, was a close friend of Mexican Poet and Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz ( 1914-1998 ) . Paz was an anthropologist , Art Critic and Philosopher apart from being an Influential Poet.

Most of us do not know that Paz was posted as Mexican Ambassador to India sometime in 1962 ( 1962-1968 ). Here in India ,he developed a deep and serious Interest in Indian Art , Literature , Buddhism and ancient Scriptures . All this influenced his Poetry later. Read it and you shall come to know what I say.
And Among various friends that Paz cultivated in India , J Swaminathan remained closest . Paz even wrote a poem dedicated to Swaminathan. Under the influence and encouragement of Octavio-Paz , Swaminathan started a journal on art called Contra 66.
Another person who became closest friend of Paz was Sham lal from Times of India.
 In an Interview , Swaminathan once said  : …

“ It would be a misguided belief to expect that an artist could change the whole society within his lifetime. In that case he should give up his work and devote himself solely to bringing about social transformation. Other than the marketplace where else does the artist have a dialogue with society? The easel and the painting will remain an artist's personal property and not the people's and that's the truth.”

“I had very strong romantic inclinations within me. I kept Jigar [Moradabadi] Saheb in high esteem. I even set out to write his biography....”

Sometime later a story on his Art and work at Bharat Bhawan Bhopal where he brought the Tribal art of Central India into contemporary focus .
From 1981 to 1990 , He was Director Roopankar ( Art Museum ) At Bharat Bhawan Bhopal .

( Autar Mota )

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