Delhi: Sohan Qadri, one of the country's leading
spiritual artists, believed that an artist had to see through the
form to break its laws. A rare showcase of 70 of his abstract
frames painted between 1960 to 2010 has opened here.
Qadri's abstract art was inspired by Kundalini Yoga, Rig Veda and
Vajrayana Buddhist tantrism.
The first-ever exhibition covering 50 years of Qadri's life opened
at the Visual Arts Gallery Sep 1. The week-long exhibition was
inaugurated by Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.
Qadri, who died this year in March in Canada, had been working
with Kumar's Gallery here since 1965 as an artist on roll.
Qadri played with his material, paper and canvas, the way a weaver
spins his cloth. The artist managed to give a textile finish to
his canvas and paper with the weft and the warp of a fabric,
chaotic forms and dots or "moola beeja", the tantric symbol
representing the source of energy.
Qadri's art has been a journey like his life which was spent
mostly outside India.
The canvases on display are arranged in a loose chronological
order of Qadri's evolution as an artist, reflecting his movements
in mediums, forms, deconstruction and experiments with colours.
They begin with the impasto (thick coats of paints in solid
patches) imprints on canvas and move on to paper to capture the
"His life as an artist is characterized in two important journeys.
During 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, he painted on canvas. But he
decided to move on in the late 1980s to paper - with the same
phenomenal contours that he created on canvas. It continued till
2000," Sunil Kumar Jain of Kumar's Gallery told IANS.
Qadri brought the medium of oil on to paper.
"It was a difficult marriage of the two mediums. How can an artist
who paints impasto abstractions in oil on canvas do the same with
ease on paper - producing similar abstract forms," Jain said.
Two off-beat figurative compositions of a 'tabaliya' (tabla
player) and that of a city of highrises throw rare insights into
the play of figures in the abstractionist's life, who was obsessed
with nebulous forms and sacred symbols.
Qadri's art assimilated from his travels around the world. He went
in search of spiritual salvation to Tibet where he studied
Africa painted his spirituality in myriad shades of rites and
rituals and Europe inspired him with its classical and
neo-classical arts movements.
A brief tenure as a teacher at the Chandigarh University on his
home turf helped Qadri master Indian traditional genres like
miniatures, tantric mandalas and spiritual paintings.
Qadri eventually found a home in Denmark where he lived for nearly
He founded the free city of Christianna outside the Danish capital
Failing health compelled him to relocate to Canada a few years
"He painted till a year before his death. A pictorial biography of
his life's works that we published to mark 60 years of his life as
an artist reached Qadri before his death. His wife telephoned us
from Canada and said 'Sohan says I now have my entire life's work
in front of me and I can die happy...'," Jain recalled.
In a few months, he succumbed to his kidney illness at age 78.
In a tribute to Qadri in the biography, peer F.N. Souza said: "Sohan
Qadri may be a guru, he may be a tantrik sage, he may be
anything... to me he is an artist par excellence."
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