YOUR FORM IS MY CREATION 1992-98

"Your form is my creation" is a visual arts exhibition with a difference. It is the first large-scale effort by a contemporary artist to respond to traditional Marathi bhakti poetry. These paintings in various media, graphics in different techniques, and models of sculptures conceived on an architectural scale are the response of one modern (or should one say postmodern) artist to one of India's greatest poets, the Marathi mystic Tukaram. This exhibition is unique on several other counts, too. Bhaskar Hande was born in Umbraj in the Maval region not far from Dehu where Tukaram was born. Though four hundred years apart in time, both share the same native universe. Though Hande has been living in Europe for about thirteen years now and has become a Dutch citizen, his cultural signature has remained the same. He continues to write excellent poetry in Marathi and his paintings are nourished by visual forms that can be traced back to rural Maharashtra. His sense of colour, texture and form is distinctly Indian. In "Your form is my creation" his Indianness comes out even at the conceptual and thematic level. Yet Bhaskar Hande's Indianness is not ethnicity worn on the sleeve. It is the very substance of his cultural identity in a multi-cultural global community of artists.

It is remarkable that he brings the refreshing force of Tukaram's poetic vision into his paintings and sculptures giving them a comprehensive cultural context. Any serious evaluation of these works will have to account for their cultural origin. 'Bhakti Abhyaspeeth' decided to sponsor in India 'Tuze Roop Maze Dene' precisely because it is the first large-scale effort by any contemporary artist to interpret the work of a major bhakti poet or to claim inspiration from traditional bhakti poetry. This is a novel dialogue between the language of poetry and the language of painting in which motifs from the unique religious culture of varkari pilgrims figure prominently. Hande's leitmotif is the key image of Vithoba given varied geometric and perspective treatment by the artist. Semi-abstract shapes and figures of objects familiar to the people of rural Maharashtra. tools and implements used by farmers or rural housewives for example, spring up in striking forms and compositions throughout these works. Many of Tukaram's poems have picturesque, vivid visual imagery. They become texts for Hande at the level of painting. Yet Hande's work is not crudely illustrative or elaborately narrative though subtly suggestive of its cultural origin.

Bhaskar Hande