Bandwari, 4 ft x 6ft, oil on canvas
My second exhibition 1990 was in Mumbai in the Taj Mahal Hotel gallery
This time the paintings was more focused on the fleeting moments of life
I was inspired by little scenes I saw on the side of the road, people living their lives on the pavement
One of the first paintings for this exhibition is ofBandwari, the Pan Seller. He sits under a tree waiting for customers with confidence,a slowly burning ropehanging above him from a tree so customers can easily light their beedies (local cigarettes). He smiles at me,thinking “this is just another tourist” passing him by, he has no idea that this moment will be put on a canvass that will be displayed in Mumbai.
In reality,Bandwari sat on a busy sidewalk in the middle of Delhi where it is very common for tourists to see this sight.When I started this painting, I thought the focus should be on Bandwari himself, with no distractions, showing the loneliness that the city brings tothe self-employedand theirday-to-day struggle for survival. To emphasise this aspect, I made an empty background, though the presence of people coming and leaving himis shown in the discarded burnt matches and empty crushed cigarette boxes.
When I made the painting,I was very happy with the result. I then took a photograph to the Pan Seller to show him. He looked at it in avery puzzled manner and said,“this is not where I sit”. Ithen explained to him why I had changed the background.I gave the Pan Sellera copy of the photograph as a gift and asked him his name, which I then put on the painting with his permission.
When it was time to exhibit the painting and people came to the gallery to see the works, a professional young lady approached me to buy the painting.My father was standing beside me and before I could say anything, he said this painting is not for sale this belongs to the painters’ private collection.So this is why this beautiful and meaningful painting is still with me.