Your Form Is My Creation | paintings-lithographs-sculptures | Bhaskar Hande

‘An earthen pot full of nectar’ and ‘a gold vessel full of wine’. Think a while and decide what will you opt for.
-A Marathi abhang of Sant Tukaram

It would be futile to look for Western origins in the abstract colours and shapes of Bhaskar Hande (born in Umbraj, Maharashtra, in 1957) – painter, poet, filmmaker, photographer and philosopher who’s been living in The Hague, Holland, for a number of years. The abhangs of Marathi mystic saint Tukaram, born more than 400 years ago, are integral to his abstracts. What is art after all? True art involves giving up the gold vessel brimful of wine and savouring the drops of nectar from an earthen vessel. Tukaram exhorts one “to see the inner light” to attain the peace of mind and we can see that magical glow in Bhaskar’s abstracts. Tukaram says that when the mind disintegrates one needs patience to bring it back to health and achieve well-being. This patience is the hallmark of Bhaskar Hande’s shapes and strokes.

Hande spent 17 years of his life in his village, and then spent nine years in Bombay as a cinema billboard painter, student of Applied Art at J. J. School and as a designer with an advertising firm. In 1982 he moved to the Netherlands – the land of masters like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh and Mondrian. For the next two years he studied at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts there. Thus, he is one Indian artist who has lived in Holland for 32 years. But his link with his village, his state, his city never snapped. Rather, over the last few years this relationship has become deeper, and more lively and meaningful.

Recently, Holland was listed among the 10 countries with the best quality of life. In October 2008 I had an opportunity to stay at Hande’s art centre in The Hague called Artimediair for a fortnight and spent considerable quality time with his paintings. The centre has been shut down since. But during my stay there I was often amazed by the atmosphere in the prostitutes’ lane right below the centre (a lane where one could observe them beckoning one with their lascivious poses from magical, glass-lined houses). Right opposite Artimediair stood the house of the great philosopher Spinoza. As part of its policy, the Dutch government was promoting the setting up of cultural centers around the lanes occupied by women of pleasure.

Coming back to his village from this other world and joining a 20-day journey on foot to discover the artist within him was a major challenge for Hande. The great journey called Palkhisohala, from Sant Tukaram’s village of Dehu to Pandharpur,( the place of temple of Lord Vitthal ) was the biggest challenge in the development of his art. Many other artists were also part of this journey. And not only city artists but young artists from village schools as well. The artist’s agenda included unearthing the hidden secrets of the Marathi culture. He also realized the secret of keeping the mind and body fit: “Walking keeps the mind fresh and the body fit.” For Bhaskar this journey had become even bigger – the journey to India from Holland to Turkey via Georgia, Iran and Pakistan. In 2008 he joined some Dutch artists on a truck as part of the project ‘Show Your Hope’ which had artists from 86 countries out to transform ‘Hope’ into a big dream.

Tukaram has written: “I was sleeping when Namdeo and Vitthal stepped into my dream. ‘Your job is to make poems. Stop wasting time,’ Namdeo said. Vitthal gave me the measure and gently aroused me from a dream inside a dream.”

All of Bhaskar’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, videos, photography and poetry are marked by a sort of ‘dream inside a dream’. There is the inner light of meditation, the strict discipline of art, and an attempt to understand the real dharma of art while proceeding on a grand journey on foot. His philosophy has been: Art is a place for unlimited experimentation.

Many Indian artists have remained in focus whether they settled down in the West or returned home. But Bhaskar Hande is courteous, modest and a poet at heart and I am sure this show will emphatically underline the significance of his art.
Vinod Bhardwaj