Badami and beyond: Spotlight on JMS Mani at work in the live art event, Rare Reflections
The prospect of a landscape can be eternally liberating. In a moment, or over the longest extended hours of concentrated studying, you’d find that any landscape — just by dint of being a landscape — will seek to transport the viewer to another place, to another location, and hopefully, to another period of time altogether.
Most landscapes tend to be of nature, or expanses of scenery — to essentially, take you away to some distant land, inadvertently and very often set between the sun and the horizon.
It’s the absolute joy therein, within the rectangular frame of any landscape — to hold in its lines and colours a view, and a visual viewpoint of a place and setting so distinct that it qualifies to imply, signify and qualify as an artistic masterpiece.
At Rare Reflections, a special live art session set to be hosted by Art & Beyond at The Purple Turtles, Lavelle Road, the noted, highly active and veteran artist JMS Mani will look to create some of that magic, in the heart of the city’s bustling central business district, as it were.
The challenge might well be daunting — to ostensibly slow down the frenetic pace of the city, and allow viewers to derive the sheer pleasure of making art.
But that precise art — of slowing down time, is second nature for an artist like JMS Mani.
Indeed, this event promises to offer a rare and unequalled exposition of the artist’s highly scrupulous workmanship, and almost sacred sense of devotion and reverence to the greater forces of nature. It might also be the closest you’ll get to finding an artist in his true elements.
Badami and beyond
Just as many contemporary artists have gained much popular approval for little more than their exquisitely designed ateliers, and even space-age design studios, an artist of JMS Mani’s calibre will always, by necessity, insist that they work best in the great wide open.
A flower garden, the foothills of a mountain, a valley side or even an open courtyard from another era — these are settings that have served JMS Mani as live studios, and artist workrooms, for him to create his masterworks.
Of course, it has been the due discipline, and order, of every naturally inclined artist — to decidedly, and repeatedly, make pictures of their surroundings. The quest of capturing a glimpse, every day, and at times of the very same location — has been the lifetime preoccupation of so many artists, and indeed even poets and writers.
The lasting dedication, over a lifetime — for that elusive sense of perfection, steeped into a rigorous daily routine — deems the making of an artist’s oeuvre.
To that end, JMS Mani is also expected to unveil a few never-before-seen works that speak of an artistic style that’s very different from that of his landmark Badami Series of paintings.
As difficult as it would seem for an artist so senior to change, and experiment with one’s personal style, he also seemed somewhat shy and wary of reactions, especially from longtime fans and followers of his work.
The point that’s truly enviable is that JMS Mani remains as active as ever, and that he has that much more in his repertoire to share, and also to play around with.
A studio in the open
On a slightly different note, it might amount to some credit, to learn that if you were to Google JMS Mani — among the top search results, you’d come across the website of a luxury interior decor and design studio.
In its online gallery, you’d find a portfolio of some rather well-composed photographs of a model living room featuring different lounge seating options — all placed directly in settings demarcated by a series of limited edition prints canvases by JMS Mani.
The intention is flattering, no doubt, as is the contrast evident in the studio’s positioning — of JMS Mani’s avowedly pastoral scenes and languorous, almost dreamlike persuasions placed directly within settings of urban, minimalistic decor.
As futuristic as the furniture is made out to be, the paintings of JMS Mani seem to ground every scene in a reality that is entirely human, and consecrated to the ways of the natural world.
The impression can be mesmerising and surreal in a way that is entirely removed from any manner of contemporary art theorising or conjecture.
The fact of the matter is that JMS Mani’s Badami Series has achieved what every artist strives for — to create or give birth to an idea, or even a visual idiom, that far outlives their own personal space, time and motivations.
It is his greatest achievement, thus far, for JMS Mani to have consistently given us a viewpoint so distinctly his own, his paintings can very nearly make one feel like they actually lived the artist’s life.
Rare Reflections will be held on November 16, 4 pm onwards, at The Purple Turtles, Lavelle Road.
— Jaideep Sen