Review by Tanishka D'Lyma
April 15, 2018


Re-Unveiling Kolte
Prabhakar Kolte
March 9th, 2018 - May 9th, 2018
Nine Fish Art Gallery, Mumbai

When you approach the work of Prabhakar Kolte, keep one thing in mind, ?there does not necessarily have to be meaning in art because art always gives meaning to life.  

To say Kolte is a practitioner of abstractionism would be an inadequate description of the artist that he is. He is a master of the form. He refrains from referencing life or reality through distortion or a representation of its likes on canvas. He allows art to be art, giving it its own identity within our world, ?to have meaning on it's own, and not become an imitation of anything in this world. In doing so, he gives new life to a painting, allowing it to be plainly what it is. 'Re-Unveiling Kolte', his first solo exhibition after almost two decades is a look at the evolution of his work in the last 50 years. The paintings on display most of which are works of abstract art are all but recognisable forms. None make any reference to concepts known to man. So what remains? The continuation of truth. Abstract goes further to comment on "whatever is hidden" in everyday life, says Kolte. His efforts before a canvas concern himself with the purity of art.  

When studied, his work in the past boasted of dominant colours that were aged to affect with white, and this as a whole was contrasted with a small bloom of colours which were laid on the primary colour. The stark difference in palettes allowed each to stand out instead of becoming shades blending into the other. His work progressed without the weathered effect but the bold colours remained sharper that ever, and with definiteness that was earlier smoothed out. This time the secondary colours, hidden and covered over and over, struggled to peep through the dominant layer of a single shade. The order is reserved, the art lays deeper and richer and the colours as vibrant as ever. Kolte says that all he wanted to do was give colours a space to be, making his the kind of art teeming with lively hues. Certain works have a trace of paint dripping down the canvas, making a note of the character of the medium and showcasing it in its natural form. In his case, art represents art itself. Kolte approaches his canvas without a plan. He begins by guiding the colours until it takes over guiding him in turn. This way, the painting becomes an experience both ways - for the painter and the viewer. 

Like every artist, Kolte has been on a journey finding himself, which continues even today at the age of 72 every time he puts brush to canvas. Being taught at the J.J. School of Art, his classmates would liken his work to that of Paul Klee's. Unaware of the name at that time, no more than a little research told him that they were in fact right, there were huge similarities between the works of the two artists, particularly the bold hues and textured surfaces. They called me the Indian Paul Klee, but I didn't mind, because I was still finding myself, you'll hear Kolte say. Palsikar is another name you'll often hear Kolte speak of. The dean of the school and Kolte's guru, Palsikar encouraged him to make portraits. The show includes a few works of Kolte's people – his classmates, students, his wife which he had created on Palsikar's urging, something his viewers are most grateful for because every piece is beautiful upon inspection. Even in them, it's easy to witness the takeover of colours forming shades and curves, skin and hair.

Art school facilitated his forming of an artist under the guidance and influence of teachers who were brilliant artists themselves. His time at the school extended beyond his five-year degree to a 22 year tenure. If you ask him now, Kolte will say that he is first and foremost a teacher, and a teacher till his last breath. You can say it runs in the family, he does too, pointing out that his father was a teacher. And rightfully so, his next plan is to open an art school in Karjat where students have the space and liberty to delve into the art they want to create. 

The show is a collection of the past work of an artist who focused on the art and withdrew from every other aspect other than the making and teaching of it. The show in association with Dot Line Space, curated by Gourmoni Das will be held from March 9th 2018 to May 9th 2018 at the Nine Fish Art Gallery in Byculla, Mumbai, a space located in a historic textile mill. A perfect fit for Kolte, ringing in the nostalgia for his childhood and keeping with the theme of retrospection.