Art by eraser

Artist Milind Nayak is presenting his graphite-on-paper for the first time at the Modernists of Bangalore exhibition, currently on at Art Houz.

He thinks the black-and-whites are hard to sell. But he makes art for himself, not for others. So it doesn’t matter to him if not many like his works.

“I always used to draw, bind the sheets and keep the books,” he says, talking of his love for art. “These works are independent of colour. They are my biggest treasure.”

Only recently did he feel it was time to show some of the display he had made in 2008.

Nayak has worked with graphite sticks and an eraser. “Graphite is the purest form of carbon. It has got a sheen that other materials don’t. I got addicted to it,” he says.
But he has created these pieces using the eraser more than graphite.

He adds, “I draw first, and then begin working with the eraser until I get what I want.”

Nayak is inspired by nature. The vivid hues in his work speak of his audacious flirtation with the colour palette and the enjoyment he derives from it.

He constantly tries to reinvent his technique, and has experimented with different media, like watercolour, oil, oil pastels, graphite, photography and digital printing.

He says he has been in and out of the art movement. He took a break between 1983 and 1999.

“I quit to support my family,” he says. “I did photography. I learnt a lot from the process. I am not into the ideological format. I stand alone, paint alone. I was going bald. So I thought it was time to come back.”

Nayak is among the few artists across the world who have seriously explored oil pastels as a medium. One of his most cherished experiences is working with a palette knife.
The artist explains that the elusiveness, force and intimacy that entail ‘painting’ with a knife are unlike those of working with a brush.

In such works, Nayak tried to move away from formal representation and step closer to abstraction. He did not, however, dispense entirely with the formal structure.

He says, “The knife technique evolved with the need to remove colour. I used it for erasing. It creates more tones and adds grace.”

Nayak likes to live and paint dangerously. “You can’t be static throughout life. You need to evolve,” he says.

Nayak was born in Udupi in 1954, and is a self-taught artist. Over the last 15 years, he has established himself firmly on the country’s visual art scene.

He says the only artist who has impressed him is his mentor G S Shenoy.

“He taught me that to become a good artist, you need to be a good human first,” he says. “I owe all my works to him. We were good friends even though I was 16 years his junior. When I took a break, he was very angry with me.”

He has had over 35 solo exhibitions, including three in USA. He has also participated in several group exhibitions in India and abroad.

By Akhila Damodaran for www.newindianexpress.com

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