Roshan Jagatrai (Art critic)

“IMPRESSIONS” group show at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, December, 2000.
The skill of the popular artist is not in providing an experience, but in providing occasions for re-living one

Jagdish Parihar , points figure-based images that centre on a feminine world. The pictures of rural women are systematic and intelligent variations on a few themes worked out in a series. They sustain themselves on an imagism with a pronounced sculptural firmness and strong outlines.

As a self taught artist, he derives pleasure in formulating a clear visual representation and his sources of inspiration are placed frontally for the spectator to make the links with other well-known artists and traditions.

Without burdening his work with excessive meaning or significance, Parihar, conjures a scheme and typification of face and figure and gesture, drawing them in flat blocks of colour, instinctively balancing the complimentories as blue and orange or red and green. These harmonies reinforce the idea of comfort and home – a space to be revisited again and again and by the sole means of remembering.

Along with the sentiment of recalling a pastoral or village ethos, Parihar turns out a high-keyed story of colours.

The routine life of women, is delineated as an idyll. The co-mingling by the well, the tenor of filial relationships, the closeness to animals and nature and the lyrical air of unworried conversations are imbued with the tonal values of every hue. The full palette finds a place on the canvas and as a result, the atmospheric pitch of colour and form is that of postcards, celebrating a time and a place; an invitation is set up to rue upon the scenario of a bustle of womankind.Active colours as orange, yellow, red are warm and advancing, they give back light. Those which absorb light, as blue and violet are passive. And green synthesizes the two divisions.

Parihar has instinctively deployed these normal associations of colour to paint psyche, a pristine state of femininity, of maternal nature and an archetypical stable, female strength. He inevitably has to acknowledge M.F. Husain who is one of the most prominent devotees of the feminine form. Parihar, like the veteran, has chosen to show woman as the key figure, weaving the patterns of life with the thread of destiny.

Nandini Bhaskaran (Art critic, Mumbai)

“Beginning of Journey” A solo show at “Jehangir Art Gallery” December 2006.

It is clear that a gentle sensibility informs Jagdish Parihar’s work. He creates a vigorous and gloriously hued idyll, where creatures, human and animal, are lamplit by a resilient acceptance of hardship. His men, women and beasts of burden encompass an idealism that is inviolably sacrosanct, their demeanor seems to suggest that the serpent may lurk in this garden of Eden, but there is no reason to abandon colour or melody or fraternal epiphanies amidst crises.

Parihar brings to his debut one-man show, consisting of 20 paintings in oil and acrylic, a harmony perhaps born out of the circumstances of his own double life, as it were, for he straddles two widely disparate worlds without apparent anguish. From the quotidian realms of locomotion and bureaucracy – he works as Chief Engineer (Construction) with Western Railway – he glides into his creative persona to plumb it with sincerity and warmth.

His artistic leanings were evident early, but a living had to be made. After joining the railways in Kota, Rajasthan, his real journey, he says, using a metaphor from his own workaday life quite inadvertently, began in 1991, when posted in Bombay, he was thrown into a world he was thirsting for while mediating with JJ Art School professors, on a project for Churchgate station. Enriched by the contact, he went on to be part of the Lalit Kala Akademi’s National Exhibitions in 1996 and 2004. Group shows followed in 2000, ‘02 and ’04.

This exhibition marks the evolution of the artist’s painterly vocabulary over the last decade. The influence of Picasso and mid- 1950s Husain are acknowledged and assimilated to carry forward his earlier preoccupations with the pastoral, the idealized couple and the female figure. There is an amplitude to the figure and a deliberate flatness and broadness to the features that calls to mind Picasso’s Cubist phase.

As with Husain, in whose early work the woman predominates, and the treatment is distanced, idolized even, Parihar’s women have a self-sufficiency while going about the rituals of festivity or personal adornment, household chores or food preparation. Framed by the arches, native to the architecture of Rajasthani homes and havelis, the women figures, in a palette of muted shades of blue, magenta, yellow and green in one painting, share a halo of propinquity. Parihar’s observation of a male dominated society seems to be distilled through his women, whose stances of sensuality and unafraid control are simultaneous. His blue woman, where his robust application of the colour seems to build layer on layer of nuance, shows her with her hands in a relaxed clasp – rather than a clench, upholding an openness to experience in spite of oppression. Similarly, the woman at work with mortar and pestle, with a kerosene lamp in the background, a study in blue and grey, is bathed in an affirmative glow. The stylization of the figure, with its sculpturesque thickness and a blurring of contour, outlaws its sexuality.

The woman with a tanpura is an effective study in ochre and cream, the scheme of colour application summoning up a secure, crepuscular ambience with no notes in dissonance. A humdrum routine can occasion its own melodies, and for that moment, one is indeed even won over the idyll.

Parihar’s male musicians and cowherds, with the pervasiveness of the animal world in the human, call to mind his works of 2002 and ‘04, in their evocation of a bucolic, mostly beneficent landscape. There was Kamdhenu, the metaphorical granter of boons, the bull grinding seed to oil, hollow-eyed by toil, tended by a gentle master, the ineluctability of the food chain in the animal world, with cadavers being supped upon by vultures. In the current oeuvre, there is a wheel from a bullock cart dislodged from axle, causing a moment of perplexity, but not a serious dislocation of intent or mood. The stylistic depiction of animals, more plentiful in his earlier works, is one of the artist’s definite strengths.

Parihar recreates the ochre landscape of his childhood in Rajasthan without literalness or sentimentality, handling the mellow pole of the colour gamut with assurance and insight: the image of a cow with a spiky tail seems symbolic of tenderness even amidst the aridity. His composition of a trio of male instrumentalists, his marionette-like bandwallah in trademark red livery, reminiscent of 1970s, Krishen Khanna, and turbaned men huddled on a charpoy with a hookah and a stray dog for company – from part of his rendering of a pristine small town landscape, unsullied by urban perturbations of upward mobility. Parihar’s view of the pastoral is as cool as picture-perfect porcelain, provoking the viewer’s imagination in not reflecting the realities or tensions of rural transformation. It is stylized imagery that becomes a way of imbuing the past with relevance and an innocent retrievability. In the absence of the agitational or querulous, Parihar’s unhurried pace offers respite and restoration.

Nirupama Paul (Art critic, Delhi)

“Anantata” A solo show at “Jahangir Art Gallery” in Dec. 2010

One can see a complete transformation in the new body of work when juxtaposed with the one Parihar exhibited earlier. From figurative silhouettes to non-figurative abstracts in muted colours speak volumes about the inner meditative journey of the artist, as he gazes at the ocean outside and within. There is an ephemeral, floating quality to his works that is so reminiscent of all the lyrical literature inspired by lakes, rivers and seas. As though the artist is not just painting, but somewhat immersed in the imagination of the ocean visually and emotionally.

The deeply symbolic objects and vessels floating on the surface of water find a parallel place in the colorful depths of the canvases. The artist here feels nudged gently by the waves to create the ethereal, cosmic world of infinity. The vessels take on a deeply symbolic meaning and become soft metaphors for the uninhibited, restless mind that can float in any direction and endlessly. Anantata, as the artist calls it, always fascinates him and finds expression in these paintings which are not just an intellectual or artistic exercise, but a truly experimental as well. The painter likes to call it an inner transformation that he experienced while translating his vision onto canvas, thereby evolving not just his style of painting but him as a person too.

Having come a long way, from the years spent at his native village in childhood, travelling to several cities thereafter on various postings, and now in this bustling metropolis, the paintings of Parihar are a mirror of his physical and metaphysical journey finding a lyrical expression in various hues and brushstrokes, opening new vistas of experimentation and new possibilities in the glimpses of hope that one sees in the various floating small motifs appearing along the inclined lines often on his canvases. Thus the journey of ANANTATA continues….