Prof. Jai Krishna Agarwal
Sub-cover artist, Arts Illustrated
‘To use time and space as an element, I had to redefine them visually. My journey in time and space is based on my realisation of these elements through architectural forms and heritage sites. Venturing amongst the cluster of monuments in Nepal, or walking through the narrow lanes of Vrindavan and Varanasi or other reminiscences of the past transports me to a different time zone and I start interpreting them in terms of time and space.’
Prof. Jai Krishna Agarwal graduated from the Government College of Arts and Crafts in Lucknow with a degree in Fine Arts and went on to hold the position of the Principal of the institute as well for several years. With a career spanning over 50 years, Jai Krishna Agarwal has exhibited his works at numerous group and solo exhibitions. His efforts within the medium of printmaking were recognised when he was awarded – twice – the State Academy Award by Lalit Kala Akademi.
Deeply conceptual and scientifically inclined, Jai Krishna Agarwal’s works evoke a nether dimension that exists in tandem with ours and yet remains alien in its actualisation. His ability to evoke a gentle shift in perspective is not lost on the viewer and the audience is completely drawn into the spectacle. Mesmerising forms flash in and out of focus as a chess-board floor shifts the stability of the composition ever so slightly.
Why do you do art?
From the beginning, even as a child, I was fascinated with visual forms. My first exposure to man’s creation was in the form of road signs in the forests where I grew up; my father was a forest official. The red bordered, triangular white road sign bearing a silhouette image of a railway engine was my favourite. I tried to copy it and in the first attempt itself I could manage to draw it. I was excited to discover my ability to draw. Since then, I have continued to draw things around me. Gradually, I started getting imaginative ideas which turned into reality in a natural way. I never asked myself why I am a painter. I think I paint as I find it exciting to see my imagination turn into reality, which I can also share with others.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I am nearing my eighties. All that I have achieved so far is satisfying. As far as my creativity is concerned, after reviewing my works in a retrospective show I do feel the necessity to start afresh. I am incubating for a while and am sure to come up with something new and different, blending with the element of time.
If you could meet your artistic role model/inspiration, who would that be?
Over the years, I have come across numerous people who have inspired me. They were not established artists alone, they were even my students. In fact, it is the art consciousness and the great creative spirit that surrounds us.
Who or what keeps you company while you work?
I was a teacher and preferred working with my students. What impressed me most were their inquisitiveness and their honest and sincere reactions.
How would you want to be remembered?
I would prefer to be forgotten, if I have not contributed anything worthy to be remembered.