If there is any element of nature that binds us as a Nation, it is the rains in the Monsoon. It is the most celebrated season and time. Bringing relief to the parched fields, tired animals, drying trees and wilting flowers, the rain breathes a new life to all that it touches. All the dust, doubts, fear and dirt are washed away. In the enigmatic yet so familiar landscape and architecture, the rain blurs the past, clears the present and lightens the future.
This is the striking feature of Somnath Bothe’s works. The dazzling complexity of colour and light that the sparkling droplets of rain lend to whatever it showers upon. It opens the viewer’s eyes to the incredible poignancy of bygone era and to the depth and mystery of the life it used to and still sustains.
In his own words, he says, “During the monsoon, I feel happy. When I feel happy, all I want to do is paint. Somewhere that also automatically reflects in my works and it is that ensures a blend of imagination and creativity in my works.” Visual art has always stepped in to manifest the imagination with colours and canvas. Monsoon is that ever-inspiring muse of Nature, which has been always synonymous with life and thus an interesting and important topic with artists.
Somnath Bothe was born in 1982 in a small village called Paithan in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. As his entire childhood was spent in the village, he developed a very keen understanding of Nature and its forms, especially the rains, which over the years developed to be the one consistent theme of his work. He hardly exaggerates when he says, “I am a farmer’s son, and therefore monsoon has a close connection with me.”
Holy Bananas 2
Over the years as he lived and worked in an urban scenario, this experience lent nostalgia to his already thoughtful works. Another element that has evolved with his urban tryst is the depiction of architectural monuments of historical and cultural importance. A self-confessed optimist, Somnath muses, “I have depicted the old buildings in Pune after the rain. It is the positivity of life and energy that flows that matters the most to me. Life doesn’t stop after the rains.” What he started in Pune now encompasses other famous monuments like the India Gate, the Ghats of Banaras or the iconic tonga-rides in the soft drizzle of his rainy canvass.
Nature, culture and architecture blend in the paintings that are colorful, vibrant and nostalgic simultaneously. These sheer conversational pieces dexterously weave together the bright color and deep subjects into a beautiful harmonious tapestry, that one are never tired to look at. The bold colours bravely depict the complex themes of past sensitively yet bravely. The soft subtle light through the rain or after it is captured in vivid oranges, cobalt blues, and lucent yellows. One might even be struck by the juxtaposition of the strong hues in the canvas and the sense of serenity and peace exuded by it.
Reflection is another interesting aspect of his paintings. You see the colours reflecting in the water in a rippling effect. The shadows, buildings, cultural symbols in the reflection, have a distinctive Impressionist influence, but what really elevates Somnath’s work to a sublime level is the sense of unfamiliar familiarity. For instance, the Ghats of Banaras are well known, yet Somnath’s work give a unique perspective of the same, in the rains. As the rain illuminates, it also dims; as the colour heightens the sense of life, it also exudes stillness; and in all these the reflections that are caught in the water blurs the real and unreal, past and present.
The fusion of rainy season and historical places in cities and villages constitute the subjects of these paintings. They transport you to a time that is long gone, but the nostalgia is a pleasant one. If you pay attention you might even hear a soft drizzle!