Witnessing is like a catalyst underpinning an action. However, throughout our lives, we rarely witness, and other times, we are subconsciously reacting. Hardly, there has been a cognition of the dividing line between witnessing and reacting. In this process of immediate uncontrolled reactions, we, humankind, are an accumulation of a myriad of impressions or sanskaras, which condition our conscience constantly. And maybe, as seers have said, the conditioning merely does not belong to one lifetime! It is like a vast tree whose fruits, hitherto independent, are interconnected by life or prana that is beyond the reach of human grasp
What is the nature of this conditioning? And how are we affected by the process of the same in levying control, or becoming a cause to our future sustenance? Rajesh Wankhade’s present artistic experiments lay in ideating a visual that would de-condition these marks of the traditional, conventional, and conditioned existence, bit by bit. In this process, his intention lies in developing and achieving a pure mind or nirvikar mann, which becomes supremely capable of witnessing existence as it is and not as he/she may think.
Born 1985, Rajesh Wankhade’s creative paintings present society’s existential phenomena through an impersonal dialect, which is being shaped by an expressionistic approach as well as conscientious art thinking. Although the forms showcase a realistic anatomical proportion, the surreal physique of many figurines is a synthesized telling of his memory.
Rajesh completed graduation and post-graduation from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Specialization in Portraiture fed his yearning to learn the intricate human face and bodily structure in detail. Moreover, his particular aim was lending some more time to see or witness the real-beyond!
Abstracting the essence of everyday encounters, Rajesh attempts to depict the social narratives of routine. Having traveled overseas while hailing from a small native of Borgaon Peth in Achalpur Taluka of Amravati district, Rajesh’s varied life experiences are an underpinning matrix of his artworks. For instance, in the Traveling series, the compressed figurines, resonating with the Tyeb Mehta style, represent how he comprehended the jammed auto rickshaw in a rural location, which was an equivalent and reconciling visual of a city like Mumbai, too. At the same time, musicians in his paintings have been infused from the streets of Germany during one of his pivotal exhibitions' tour.
Rajesh uses a variety of substrate materials while improvising in oil, acrylic, and enamel paints. Interestingly, Rajesh’s childhood has been instrumental in incorporating the pronounced distortion, which was further inspired by Picasso during his formative years. Having grown up in a high-temperature zone, due to financial limits in buying a shoe-pair, as a child, he would walk barefoot with his parents, experiencing the scorching heat below the feet and over his head. Besides, the visual of men toiling under such extreme conditions has made an emotional impression, which subconsciously made away into his visual-making process.
However, a closer look towards the style brings us to the working palette of the reputed European painter, Francis Bacon, which was apparently an inspiration to Tyeb Mehta. While Bacon figures present mutilated faces, Rajesh sumptuously keeps the proportion, creasing the entire physique that resemble paper origami. Charged with several emotive upsurges, the distinguishing, contoured, and paper-like creases, stratified in a high-key palette, overcome the illustrative quality of his oeuvre. They are made to tell a story of a life but not meant to conclude surviving norm. Despite being tightly compressed and superimposed, the figures express an isolated demeanor, which contradicts the crowded location. Light as a feather while bulky as an iron block, the forms neutrally aestheticize Rajesh's crude and layered impressions or sanskaras in his figurative art. Rajesh has been part of many painting and printmaking workshops, group exhibitions, and a recipient of several reputed awards. In 2019, he received CIMA Infosys Special Award based in Kolkata, India, and the Best Painting in Social Cause Award by Bombay Art Society, Mumbai, India. Apart from national exhibitions, in 2016, Rajesh had received a fortunate opportunity to exhibit his artworks at Schloss Organstein, Diez, Germany, which spearheaded his career objective. Rajesh lives and works in Achalpur.