Ever since Lalit Patil passed out of J.J College of Arts and Science in 1994, he has been interested in the complexities of Mumbai rather than the artificial beauty of the city. So, all these years, this Mumbaikar has been painting slums on canvas.
His exhibition, titled Landscape of Identities, at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, was inaugurated by Padma Shri winning photographer Sudharak Olwe, art collector Parvez Damania, playback singer Madhushree and sculptor-curator Sanjay Nikam among others.
Unlike others, Patil prefers spot paintings. He actually visits the slums and captures each moment he experiences in his frozen frames. “Each stroke represents an emotion for me,” he says.
So, why did Patil name his work Landscape of Identities? Well, every piece of art has its own definition, a tale and an identity, the artist explains to us. He has even made special sections where scrap creates its own canvas. “I believe my works strongly define me, you, the people of Mumbai and us,” he smiles.
For Patil, it’s the landscape of Mumbai which has always attracted him. “I was attracted to the complexity and crowd of Mumbai. The slums of Mumbai, the play of light and shade, the world of abstract excite me as a painter,” he says.
Patil spends his free time not just observing the city, but looks at the slums as his inspiration. “Mumbai is complex. It makes space for the people who flow into the city and make them its own. Be it the buildings, slums and people, they are all enveloped by Mumbai,” he says.
The structure of the slums hold a strange fascination for the artist. “Slums have an unexpected structure wherein they are houses enveloping the area, with light passing through darkness, forming shapes. These structures in juxtaposition with huge buildings in the background have their own story to tell. This structure of complexity and abstract form replete with human emotion and the bond to stay alive keeps the city alive too. It is this emotional aspect in the landscape that excites me most,” says Patil.
Art connoisseur and aviation expert Parvez Damania is all praise for Patil. “He has really captured the essence of Mumbai. Also, very few people do spot painting,” he says.
Award-winning photographer Sudharak Olwe says, “Patil has captured the unseen Mumbai. He goes to the slums and draws the landscape… it’s a beautiful way of seeing the city.”