India’s Pranava Prakash talks Bollywood and Art

Pranava Prakash’s colourful art opens a window into Indian reality. It is the everyday, social mobility v poverty that we see when looking at his paintings. His Socio Pop style of art uncovers the class and crass of society. DESIblitz caught up with Pranava to find out more about his artistic inspirations.

"My art is a record of my times. It is a recorded action of my mind-scape."

Indian artist, Pranava Prakash has perfected his craft, creating works that are an insight into the human soul. Recently, his nude paintings of Bollywood stars created controversy among the Indian film loving community.

Born in Bihar, India, Pranava is a revolutionary artist and a qualified doctor. He commonly uses art pop and Socio pop styles of painting whilst still maintaining an air of stinging realism.

Pranava help create the ‘Tucchart’ style of painting along with a group of Dehli artists. The ‘Tucchart’ style takes the common, ordinary and everyday and artistically recreates it into a reinterpreted insight into contemporary times. DESIblitz spoke to Pranava to find out more:

How did you make the switch from Medicine to Art?

“It was not a switch from medicine to art. Art was always there. Life was never divided into compartments to me. I take life in a very integrated way where everything comes together. Medicine increased my sensitivity towards life and social issues. I was trained in medicine in a medical school in Patna. Art always acted as a release or as cathartic experience where I could express myself.

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“Art to me is a continuous process of creating dialogue with life and society in all different ways, where forms and mediums are continuously merging. It is a synthetic world where no art form is pure. Everything is mixing with everything to create a very lively and dynamic chaos which is very fascinating.”

A lot of your paintings have very strong messages. Do you feel that art should always have a purpose in saying something (good or bad) about the world?

“Art has meant many things throughout human history. From early prehistoric cave art which was a curious quest of humans into their surrounding, to stylised forms of Egyptian and other river valley civilisations to religious and then human centric forms of renaissance.

“To me, one thing never changed, and that is the joy of capturing life. Enjoying the urge of expression. In this process, interacting and communicating with society creates deeper context and meaning to art.

“Personally, I feel art to be a way of communicating and engaging the society around the way I enjoy most. Through my socially relevant, Socio Pop Art movement, to writing, to very personal poems. Every single medium is an opportunity to have a dialogue. At the heart of Socio Pop art movement is dialogue with society. We never loose an opportunity to raise and engage social debates. It is part of being Socio Pop.”

Pranava 3Do you see your art as revolutionary?

“My art is a record of my times. It is a recorded action of my mind-scape. It is deeply rooted in socio political context of contemporary life and its ironies. I try to capture the dilemma of living in the present time where at once violence is rising and so is the efforts for world peace.

“Women are feeling equal or ahead of men for the first time in thousands of years and still we witness some of the nastiest of atrocities happening against women. We can be more aware of the need of the environment and the weaker section of society. I want to capture all this and more.”

You have experienced a lot of controversy in India over some of your nude paintings of Bollywood stars. What was the message you were trying to convey behind those paintings?

“Nude or no nude. It is not such a big deal. I painted Vidya Balan and Madhubala in nude. Both had their own context. You can not understand them out of their context. Vidya Balan nude, called ‘Last Wish Fulfilled’ was a tribute to a senior Indian Painter M F Hussain. It was fulfilling his dream of painting Vidya Balan in nude. This painting depicts M F Hussain painting Vidya in nude.

M F Hussain Vidya Balan“In another one, Madhubala, a legendry Indian Actress was shown nude on the cover of Maxim magazine, as a spoof on the trend of girls getting naked on the cover of magazine to sustain their popularity.

“In ‘Even Poonam Pandey Loves Anna’, a new actress Poonam Pandey was shown naked coming in support of legendary anti-corruption icon Anna Hazare, which in my opinion, was one of the epic moments in the history of empowerment of women in India.”

How important is your artistic freedom, especially living in India?

“It is very difficult to practice art in a developing country. Here the political landscape is very charged. Suddenly lots of power groups feel empowered and entitled to their freedom and often they tend to mix the idea of freedom with intolerance.

“In India, many such noisy groups are becoming prominent who are very intolerant towards artistic freedom. Who take upon themselves the role of moral guardianship of society without entitlement for the same. They claim to represent Indian tradition or some unique cast or religious group. They very religiously get into the habit of being offended with one reason or other with every new movies released or every new form of ideas expressed.”

“Come, colour yourself in the pigments of life then you will enjoy everything and will not get offended with truth, you will only love it. Hate ugliness of surrounding and change the world for better for the generations to come.”

Which artists inspire you?

“Andy Warhol for his grasp over the happenings of modern life. Litchenstain for his witty borrowings. Damian Hirst inspires me with the way he captures the ironies of the post modern self.”

What are you working on now?

“Currently, I am working on giving Indian Gods a totally new treatment and contemporary setting. In India, Gods are very humble and humane and there is one for every occasion. Ganesha for good luck, Luxmi for wealth, Saraswati for knowledge, Hanuman for courage. I wanted to understand them from the modern perspective of heroism made popular by Marvel Comics and I am trying to understand their visual language.”

Pranava sees art as a vessel for him to expose the crooked veins of Indian society. He paints his surroundings, and only by doing so, is he able to understand her problems better.

Pranava describes himself as fun, authentic and fearless. He is an Indian artist who is not afraid to express himself.

For any artist, the freedom of expression is vital. It is only through true expression that artists like Pranava can find their voice, and begin to bring about the change that society so desperately needs. We look forward to more of Pranava’s work in the future.

Aisha an English literature graduate, is a keen editorial writer. She adores reading, theatre, and anything arts related. She is a creative soul and is always reinventing herself. Her motto is: “Life is too short, so eat dessert first!”