By Saurabh Bhattacharya March 1999Indian painter Vijender Sharma seeks truth through the 'reality' of illusion His studio is a giggle at hypocrisy. Beside a snazzy music system, a human skull grins through a twisted piece of glass. Above a shelf stacked with priceless books on art sits a Buddha wearing Ray-Ban. Like an excited child showing off his latest toy, Vijender Sharma points at the Buddha and says: 'You know, Buddha saw something in his way. But look what we've done. We've colored his vision. He now views things the way we want him to. Funny, isn't it?' Funny? Indeed. Behind every startlingly alive painting of Sharma's lurks a barely suppressed guffaw at the ways of the world—be it a politician wearing a joker's make-up, an eyeless vendor of countless eyes or an umbrella hanging alongside a saffron niche in the wall. Every painting is disturbingly lifelike, seeping effortlessly out of the drawn frame into the here and now. 'I don't want you to just look at a painting and move on,' says Sharma. 'I want you to become a part of the work, feel its intensity in every pore of your being.' Picture this: a woman stares at you with eyes that hold the world's sorrows, beseeches you with hands that hold a bouquet of flowers and a razor-sharp pair of scissors. Love and hate, pain and beauty—all come together with a starkness that is almost real. Almost real. Almost. Just as you think you have recovered from the 'gimmick' of three-dimensionality, you feel stunned anew by the truth within. A truth that is straining against clinging sheaths of polythene, tied down by thin red cords. You want to reach out, rip off the sheaths and free Everyman straining for the horizon. But you can't. For it is all art, all of it. But then, isn't that the essence of art, after all? An eternal striving for the truth, an unending yearning for the ultimate. And then, once the artist reaches his goal, there is no art, no paint, nothing. Just a pair of eyes riveted to a sacred niche, looking at the world beyond and chortling with glee. Sharma paints for a living, and he makes no bones about this. His exhibitions are invariably sold out. But he has not lost his talent in the lure of lucre. His themes are commonplace and intense—corruption, hypocrisy, materialism, death, spirituality, love. No mindless abstractions or didactic strokes. Sharma is a simple painter who gives simple meanings to complex paintings. 'I seek solutions,' he says, solemnly. 'I seek the truth.' Then, suddenly he leaps over to the skull. A smile waltzes within his grizzly beard as the impish painter says: 'This is what we are, after all. This is the simple starkness of our lives. But look how we run away from this, frightened to see our own selves. Funny, isn't it?' To view Vijender Sharma's works, click here.
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