INTERVIEW WITH PRAJAKTA PALAV
Q. What are the issues that you are dealing with in your work? Would you prefer to call your paintings social commentaries or urban landscapes?
Prajakta: My works take from personal experiences in my life. They are about contradictions between what is real and unreal, questioning what is artificial and decorative along with preconceived notions of ideal beauty. Society tries to hide the ugly in every aspect revealing only that which is beautiful. It is a concept we are taught - it is engrained in each member of society, for example - being told to smile in front of the camera in order to present yourself as best as you can. In college I studied portraiture, and when I was taking pictures of my subjects, I found children as young as one and two years old smiling for the camera. I don't believe in these social pressures. These paintings are not narrative rather a documentation, for which I use photography as a media to document.
Q. What or/and who would you consider to have influenced your oeuvre? Could you expand on your journey as an artist so far?
Prajakta: I don't think I have any influences on my work. I used to assist the artist Bose Krishnamachari after college and I was touched by his energy for life, and of course my mother, but these are influences for my life rather than my paintings. While I was in college I was very good at portraiture. I could complete a painting in about half an hour and I wanted to take this practice a step further. At J.J. (Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai) portraiture as a genre was very limited. We were told to paint the model in front of us and that was it. I slowly began to leave the figure in front of me and started painting the background behind the models, painting the mess and ugliness behind them, picking up other details of the models such as their artificial jewelry or the way their skin colours varied with tans.
Q. Could you tell us more about this work?
Prajakta: This is an image of a very old chawl (tenement) in Lalbagh, Mumbai. A temporary gate has been set up for the festival Ganapati and I liked the flatness of it. I contrasted this with smaller details in the background such as water dripping from the windows. I was looking at the details within these spaces and homes using them as a comparison between something living and non living. The gate is flat, cool, polished and non living as opposed to the living objects inside these houses. Ultimately, it's the living that decays while the nonliving objects remain as they are.
Q. Where do you see this work in relation to your future projects?
Prajakta: Essentially, I am looking at a contrast between what is living/non living, real/unreal, flat/vibrant. I want to continue with this in my future works.