Manu Parekh's Ode to Banaras
The award-winning artist captures the ancient city's many shades of blue
Contemporary painter Manu Parekh has been finding his way back to Banaras (Varanasi) for the past 30 years or so. After his move from Kolkata to Delhi in the late '70s, Parekh sought an artistic sabbatical in the ancient city. Away from the brick and mortar, he was inspired by its fluidity and organic nature. "With every trip there's been a different experience--the colours of the city, the lights just add to make for a magical landscape," says the 1992 Padma-Shri-winning artist, who is also the recipient of the Lalit Kala Akademi's National Award (1982). "Once while walking, I saw a wedding party and just a few steps away there was a funeral procession," he says. "Only in Banaras do you experience both a celebration of life and death," he adds. And this proximity encouraged him to paint series after series dedicated to Varanasi. At a glance, 'Banaras in Blue' is a stunning canvas, a reflection of the lights from the ghats. "The thought for this painting came from a boat ride that I'd taken in the evening--it's a mix of darkness, light on the water and the sky, which is why you see so many shades of blue," he explains. On the interplay of the light, he adds: "Man-made (from the temples) and divine (the reflection in the water), it's a contrast of the two that I find captivating."