BY FR CARLOS LUIS
Damodar Madgaonkar, a self-taught artist from Paliem, Ucassaim and the winner of the state award for painting at the 41st State Art Exhibition at Kala Academy 2022, is ready to blow your mind with his most excellent solo art exhibition that began on February 25, 2023, at Carpe Diem, Majorda.
Titled Aapun melyabagar swarg disana (You can’t see heaven unless you die), the exhibition breathes life into Konkani proverbs or phrases.
Damodar Madgaonkar works with all mediums. He enumerates, “I work with acrylic, watercolour, pen and ink, oil, and charcoal. My favourite medium is mixed media. It gives me the freedom to express myself as I can overcome the limitations of working with a particular medium. I also like to work with oil paints a lot and enjoy my pen work as well.”
Damodar goes on to say, “What I paint or sculpt is a reflection of my deepest thoughts. When I create artwork, it comes from a process of my mind's churning of a particular thought. I work on that idea and do my research first. What comes out on the canvas is the product of that creative churning.”
He has earlier had exhibitions with titles based on Konkani proverbs or phrases, like Gajvikrti (“Gaj” means “elephant” and “vikrti” means “emotion”) in 2016; Ek jeev sadashiv (A single man is always a lion) in 2022; and now Aapun melyabagar swarg disana (You can’t see heaven unless you die).
Damodar explains the reason behind this fascination, “It stems from my love for the Konkani language. It's my mother tongue and I have always been fascinated by its phrases and proverbs.”
“So, this affinity perhaps reflects in the titles I choose for my exhibitions. Actually, the idea for my latest show, based on the Konkani phrases and proverbs, struck me seven years ago, and I even did the research for it then. During the pandemic, I revisited the idea and started working on this topic. I completed my research on the proverbs, which led to individual works inspired by these phrasal gems from Konkani,” he adds.
For him, painting is a means to find himself through art. He delves deeper into his innermost thoughts producing the ideas for his works.
Damodar genuinely expresses, “I don't find anything difficult about this process as it is something I dearly love. This process is quite relaxing for me.”
According to him, art reflects life. It shows us the deep connections we have between humans and nature.
He adds, “Art can be many things as it can evoke different perspectives depending on who is viewing it.”
For Damodar, art allows us to rectify our past mistakes. It can represent the ideal and the perfection that we seek. Art can lift our spirits on a difficult day. It is indeed important to society.
“Through art, we can relay important messages to the public. It is something which can spur a genuine response about issues and ideas that can shape the world,” he says.
Further, he states, “The difficulties I face are technical and overcoming them tests and refines me as an artist. Sometimes to get the right palette, there are limitations an artist faces and that's why I like to work in mixed media. As for working and putting together a solo show, I love to challenge myself and bring it all together so that the audience can enjoy my different works.”
He has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions, considering it wonderful to interact with his fellow talented artists.
Damodar articulates, “I learn a lot from them. But having a solo exhibition is what ultimately challenges you. Also, this was something a long time coming as it was conceptualised seven years ago. Working on this topic has allowed me to experiment extensively, and I am very happy with the end product. I hope the audience likes my works as well.”
Damodar Madgaonkar started as a commercial artist and has various skills which have shaped him as an artist.
For Damodar, Wilson D'Souza is his guru for whom he has much admiration. He declares that Wilson D'Souza has influenced him a lot and that he loves his work and his technique.
He is now working on his next solo show, which will be held in Mumbai. He excitedly informs, “It's still a work in progress, and I can't give any details about it at the moment.”
Damodar is rightly motivated as he ends the conversation. He states, regarding young artists, “I would urge them to choose the right path and believe in themselves. They have to follow their process but rely on the advice of seniors. Also, they should not chase money as artists when they are still young. First, work hard on refining yourself. Eventually, their talent will shine through and the money will follow.”
(Carlos Luis is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and is currently the mission secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on literature and films that mirror life.)