What we loved during our childhood tends to stay in our hearts forever, doesn’t it? For Lakhan Singh Jat, his childhood and his memories of it are a constant stream of images that he can always go back to, reminding him of an achingly familiar time – one of innocence, feelings, and shared laughter. Having discovered his passion for art early in life, there was never a doubt about the path his life had to take. It was art, it is an art and it is always going to be art. Lakhan’s paintings beautifully reflect his sensitivity, the nostalgia, and the span of his imagination. In our latest ‘Framing the Artist’ series, Artflute’s Sridevi Padmanabhan caught up with the reflective artist to get his take on what art means to him.
It’s always interesting to know about how an artist’s background has influenced his art? How did where you grew up and the experiences you’ve had shaped the art you make?
My childhood memories have shaped my art more than anything else. I grew up in Kushay, a small traditional village in Rajasthan till I was in the 8th grade and later moved to the city for my further education. The memories of my life as a farm kid are still incredibly vivid for me- the animals, birds, and my time spent playing in the fields. Looking back to those days spent amongst farm animals and running around with my friends flying kites always brings a smile to my face. With life in the city, the freedom of that time has slowly slipped away. I often long for the uncomplicated and carefree days of my childhood in the village. My longing is what prompted me to translate those memories on to canvas. Sometimes, watching a child play with a toy brings back an old memory and it becomes the subject of a painting for me.
What is the medium that you enjoy working with?
Though I have worked with oils and with watercolors, I enjoy the flexibility that working with acrylic gives me. When it comes to subtle variations and shades, it gives me exactly what I want.
How do you stay disciplined while working on art projects that take time to complete?
I have a very strong drive to finish a painting once I have conceived of the image in my head. Of course, there are times during a project when I lose the clarity of my vision for the painting. I then put the painting away and don’t even look at it. I get started on another painting and ignore the older one for 4-5 days. And when I get back to it after that break, the vision for it is again clear and I finish it.
Have you ever had a period of being creatively blocked? How did you work through it?
No, I pace myself and so don’t get creatively blocked. Once I have finished working on a series, I take a break in which I don’t paint at all. During this time, my brain is buzzing with ideas and inspiration but I don’t get to the canvas for a couple of months. This automatic break after a long period in which I have been active ensures that I don’t get blocked.
What was the last series of paintings you worked on about? How was it received?
I just had a solo exhibition Athkheliya at the Lokayata Art Gallery this year. Snapshots of childhood inspired by my memories were the theme of the paintings. Kids riding to school on cycles with their bags, the absorption a toy inspires in a child, animals, and children playing together, were the themes for some of my paintings. What was really heartening for me was hearing people who attended speaking about the emotions the paintings brought up for them. They really enjoyed seeing glimpses of a childhood they said is rarely experienced anymore.
What can we look forward to from you next?
My next exhibition will be at the Jehangir Art Gallery in 2016 and I’m beginning to work towards that.