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The Horse Medic


Detail from The Horse Medic - blue shell

Oil on Canvas | 18" x 24" | 77K download

I was watching a flim on the indegenous people of the Andaman and Nicober islands when I remembered Maugham's "... And those nude men and women. They were of the earth, the clay with which they were created, and at the same time something divine. You saw man in the nakedness of his primeval instincts, and you were afraid, for you saw yourself..." (You will find this requoted in the section on Gauguin).

Once upon a time it was fahionable to go "primitive", to show artistic disdain towards established notions of civilization, and become a voluntary member of the so called "less progressive races". Now that we have left Modernism behind, and there is no universal barometer of progress against which to fashionably contrast "primitiveness", the art of urban sophistry is dying. A few influential(in the business of "art") stragglers still think it's morally and aesthetically convincing to "promote" what they term "tribal" art, but the unfortunate truth is that people are getting wiser by the day. Those "primitive refuges" are fast disappearing, the Tarzans and the Phantoms are increasingly becoming irrelevant, and once the tourists have left for the day - the young lab technician, happy to earn some extra buck while on vacation, is increasingly setting aside his "Zulu gear", flipping out his cellphone, and chatting with his girl friend studying law in downtown Jo'burg.

I could have named this picture "The Voodoo Vet" but Horse Medic sounded less alliterative and funnier. The juxtapostion(African and Bengali folk) looked fit enough to teasingly allure die-hard upholders of "tribalness" while the broken(clumsy me!) Bankura Horse provided me with a perfect opportunity to test the tinting powers of freshly purchased Indian Red. All I needed were a blue unblemished sky, some estuarine sand(the river-bottom kind did the trick), and some shells from my sister's South African days. And some elementary sense of complementary colors. The Horse Medic was born!

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