Kolkata, Chennai, Goa: Leon Morrocco
"This is my second exhibition at John Martin's on India and my enthusiasm for that country continues unabated."
in recent years the subject matter that i like to paint in Europe has become
increasingly hard to find. affluence has inevitably led to a kind of visual
standardisation - people are, on the whole, well-fed, cities and countryside wellmaintained, highly organized and controlled, clean and tidy.
I do not wish poverty on anybody, but it is a fact that poverty in india results in a
kind of unstructured pattern of crumbling buildings, flaking paintwork, walls that
are depositories of all kinds of political and religious slogans, teeming street
markets and public spaces shared by human beings and animals alike - in short, a
kind of organic mess punctuated by notes of intense colour - all of which provides
rich pickings for a painter.
the problem of painting india is one of selection - how to extract an idea from
what is often organised chaos and then to find a formal solution on the canvas
that will convey a sense of place without becoming over complicated or "busy" -
the conundrum is that the more one simplifies the less it looks like india!
My answer to this problem is drawing. three or four weeks of intensive, on-thespot
drawing, absorbing every kind of visual experience from burials at the ghats
in Varanasi, to street barbers in kolkata, to temple elephants in Madurai. this
process for me is an exhilarating method of building a vocabulary from which to
develop a group of paintings.