Rakesh Patel has been a keen observer and documenter of the human face for many years. In particular, Patel’s work is a study of children.
His art stands out in its ability to fuse fleeting moments and everyday drama into the realistic medium of portrait painting. The idea, as Patel puts it, is an attempt at studying the psychological.
‘Years back, I would often go paint portraits of children at the railway station. What started as an exercise to explore and develop my techniques, became my absolute obsession with portraiture – children especially, because their expressions of thought and emotion are at their most elemental. With two young children in my family at the time, I got a lot of time to observe them - their expressions, their reactions, their emotions.’
Speaking of one his paintings from his ‘Travelled Emotions’ series, he says, ‘Outside is one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Ahmedabad called Gulbai Tekra (nicknamed Hollywood) - a place that survives on making Ganesha idols for the annual festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. To the outside world, the children look like ‘bechara’ (poor things).
But when you really see these children – laughing, playing in the rain, running after balloon-sellers, you realised they were far from being ‘bechara’. At moments in time, they are happy in way only children can be.’
So what began as a journey to master academic precision over the human face and anatomy, slowly transformed into penetrating the minds behind the faces. Expressions of anger, innocence, fear, joy, curiosity and eagerness exude from his canvases. Patel strives to reach a ‘psychological depth’ in these works, fuelled by constant interaction, observation and photography sessions. ‘Sometimes the expression itself is so strong that I do not feel it proper to add anything more to the background of my works.’
A graduate of Sheth C. N. College of Fine Arts (Ahmedabad), Patel’s work is housed in private and institutional collections in India and internationally. His work is now being recognised with successful solo shows in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, on top of a plethora of group shows. He is also member of an experimental art collective in Ahmedabad, Art Affair.
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