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Madan lal firstname.lastname@example.org Curiosity might have killed the cat, but the ever eager and forever curious Madan Lal believes it’s important to ponder and wonder. When Goldie Hawn said, “Curiosity, I think, is a really important aspect of staying young or youthful” she perhaps forgot to add artistic. In a perpetual state of awe, struck by life’s immeasurable beauty, Chandigarh based Madan celebrates life in as many myriad hues. Of course, the celebration isn’t surface deep or superficial. Its joy in pure form, anand as our scriptures inform and one that finds inspiration in Sufi thought. Like the swirling dervishes his works create their own rhythm and melody lost in its own musicality. Poetry in motion, resonant and vibrant these follow the Gurbani’s deep philosophical thought mann tu jot saroop hai, apna mool pehchan. (O my mind, you are embodiment of the divine light recognize your own origin.) Though he is not pompous enough to delude himself that he has found his true self yet what he wanted to be was revealed in his childhood years. As a student of class six growing up in Talwandi Bhai he knew art was his muse. Whether he would end up in the Government College of Art Chandigarh one day, this lad from rural Punjab had no clue. Five years of training in art did not change or transform the innate artist in him. In fact, since he was a student of applied art and not painting various schools and isms of the west didn’t impact him greatly. His own cultural roots, the miniature tradition, the frescoes of Ajanta and Ellora, however, have consistently defined his imagery. Till date in the mudras of his figures you can sense the deeply imbibed influence of the Indian tradition. Sufism that also defines his poetry makes a strong presence on his canvasses too. The central figure in many of his paintings with head bowed in submission is almost like a Sufi figure. Buddha appears in many of his series... for which Indian artist can escape the influence of his mantra of eternal bliss? Madan’s anthropomorphic images--- part human part animal--are employed deftly to paint the emotional-scape of human beings and the complexity of man woman relationships. Eroticism too is a recurring thread. He doesn’t view erotica and spirituality as two disparate ends of the spectrum as both demand complete submission and immersion. Art and aesthetics too go hand in hand for him. Whatever may be the subject, he paints beauty... period. While elements of nature such as birds, peacocks, clouds, trees are bound to be beauteous, in his hands, dustbins become rose plants, road maps a lyrical figure. Why he lends sensuality even to a urinal. Besides, when he uses animal form… it’s not with negative thought or connotation. It’s not animal instinct that he is alluding to but animal power, drive and energy. Negativity has no place in his art even when he is reflecting upon profound issues. Like a true blue Punjabi he finds joie de vivre in everything he sees and touches. The world anyway is swarming with ugliness.... why add to it? So he believes and practices. For someone who paints in wee hours of morning expectedly painting is an act of prayer, meditation and riyaaz. When the world stands still something within him stirs and finds form that is at once evocative and poetic, alluring and awe-inspiring. Replete with metaphors which are like alphabets of the visual language his works are always redolent with meaning. If he were to just paint two figures the outcome he believes would be downright insipid. Unless figurative forms are correlated with metaphors, the work will have no resonance. Rang udde han bina khamab de, rang bolde han bina shabdan de.”(Colours fly without wings and speak without words). If his colour palette seduces the viewer, technique that involves days of labour completes the process of entrapment. He might have been taken in by pahari school of painting, flatness of surface never ever fascinated him. The methodology he has arrived at is very much his own. He moved away from time consuming medium of oils to acrylics for it suits his temperament and his technique. Step by step he applies one layer of colour, draws a little then adds another layer and the process goes on and on till he knows the dialogue with his canvass is over. Of course, the communion that he strikes has its genesis in the craft of drawing. He draws like a man possessed and has an unending collection of drawings which form the blueprint of his creativity. Drawing from the reservoir of Sufi flavour that he could smell in his village Talwandi Bhai in Ferozepur district, barely 35 km away from Kasur, the land of mystic poet Bulle Shah he immersed deep in poetic musings at an early age. By the time he came to Chandigarh he had not only read Bulle Shah, Shah Hussein, Baba Farid but also Shiv Kumar Batalvi. Somewhere along the poet within was also born. But be it the poet or the painter, it’s the journey of self- realisation. Roop rang aakar se nirakar tak, rachna se rachnakaar tak …. Apne se aap tak…( From form colour and shape to the formless, from creation to the creator from I to the self ) life is looking within an inward journey. Any wonder the little boy in him who would gaze ceaselessly at the vast expanse of fields and the endless horizon is very much alive and kicking off the ennui that envelopes most ordinary mortals. As wonderstruck and enamoured, the child within ensures that the artistic vision never turns stale or monotonous. So his vocabulary is forever seasoned with freshness and is continually changing. Much of what he experienced in his formative years has informed his artistic sensibilities. For instance writing on takhti in school days has transformed into calligraphy. Living in Chandigarh for over three decades too has rubbed on his artistic process. Preoccupation with geometric forms for instance is most certainly a fall out of living in Le Corbusier’s well planned city. Urban living lends itself to Urban Emotions in which he introduced urban images like lock and key and symbols of calculations hinting at growing materialism. Most of his images go beyond the obvious. Lock and key, also analogous of sexual intimacy, is meant to open doors to deeper recesses. Keyhole peep into the life of man and woman tells you more about urban living than sociological essays can. Urban Phulkari, his more crowded series is his way of amalgamating two different worlds. Rural and urban coexist and stitch together memories of urban life just as his mother would piece different motifs while embroidering Phulkari. But just when his Phulkari became too dense and populated with far too many motifs, he broke out of the mould. Now figures appear more fleshed out and realistic. Full cycle… but he began his artistic journey with abstraction. Five elements of nature were his muse for a long, long time. From realism to abstraction, Madan has been going back and forth. Over time actually since 2005 figures became his constant artistic companion leading him to express fully and more evocatively. As he crosses seven seas and participates in workshops across continents in places as diverse as Turkey and Macedonia he is enthralled with how visual idiom connects beyond cultural divide. Vice-Chairperson of the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademy, he likes forging the bond between art lovers and artists. Working with Handicrafts & Textile with Punjab Government, Chandigarh has also cemented his connect with the world of art. Tera Pinjara Jangaal Ney Khana , Mian Mithu Urh Jana. (Your cage will be eaten by rust Mian Mithu( the parrot ) will fly away ). Deeply aware of the ephemeral nature of human life – body like the cage will rust and only the soul would remain– though he has found a ready and steady market that includes buyers like Tina Ambani, it’s spiritual quest that he is ultimately seeking. Anhad naad... the sound of the cosmos and of human consciousness is where his search is directed and finds a resounding reflection in his canvasses. At the heart of his creativity is nostalgia, memory, mythology, roots, past and of course the ability to make it all possible and relevant to the present. As– Doug Ivester said; “Never let your memories be greater than your dreams,” he dreams with mind’s eyes and imbues a dream-like allegory to his paintings.