“I have lived much of my life as a recluse, shunning the glitter associated with the art world. I have made every conscious attempt to avoid getting labeled as an artist. I prefer the anonymity of my doodles and my silent pursuit of colour and forms. Naming them or intellectualising the process of these simple acts would certainly be an act of lying to myself”, Milind Nayak.
One day, while visiting friends in good old Malleswaram, one of the pockets of old Bangalore, my late husband Allen scooped up a bowl of water cresses from their garden. We went on to a tiny house with a garden in Koramangala that was Milind Nayak’s studio for sometime.
We found that Milind had painstakingly dug out a pond and was busy filling in water. The pond became the new home for the watercress and they proliferated along with the lotuses that joined them. The rest of the garden bloomed too, and was for all of us a creative retreat, where we sipped jasmine tea and inhaled the heady smells of paints wafting from the open doors of the studio, sometimes talking, sometimes just sitting in quiet solitude.
Milind says he had always dreamt was of having a garden with lotuses from when he was a child. Growing up in Udupi, he was smitten by the sight of lush paddy fields in which lotus flowers bloomed. He studied the pond with great intent whenever he had free time.
The childhood fascination continued to enthrall him. As the plant in his pond started blooming, he discovered many facts about the life of a lotus plant. He photographed it extensively and has now completed over 20 paintings that are being shown for the next three weeks at the Gallerie D’Arts here before hopefully winging their way across other cities.
The exhibition titled ‘Lotus Pond’ comes after a three-year hiatus during which Milind has battled a fractured leg and amputated toe along with melancholy.
It was art that has brought cheer to his life again; though he harrumphs, “Well, what else could I do but paint when I was stuck in front of the easel, unable to move?”
Over the years, Milind has evolved a technique of using digital art and photographs in his creative process. He begins by sketching, photoshops the sketches and places them alongside his formidable collection of photographs he takes of places and nature that inspire him. It’s only then that he begins to paint.
The finished paintings have no semblance of the photographs or the digital outputs; he says though that they are important in helping them make the paintings “tighter and more structured”.
The new collection is of oil paintings; four years ago, he had painted the same theme in pastels and the whole collection was bought by a collector, who requested him not to use the theme for three years. Now here they are and priced modestly between Rs.50,000 and Rs.2,50,000, look set to be gobbled up quickly.
“I am not out to make a fast buck. My paintings are ways of expressing myself”, he tells me when I quiz him about the cost.
Milind, whose oeuvre includes abstracts, makes no bones about wanting to paint beautiful things, “ Landscapes are a neglected medium today and critics especially look down upon good looking paintings. I’m in search of beauty…a tree is so beautiful, I try to explore its facets”.