A curator’s tribute to an artist

The art of screen printing may seem like it belongs to a bygone era, but it remains a central part of the work of the Ahmedabad-based DRS Arts Company.

On March 19, 2021, Chaitya Dhanvi Shah made her debut as an author and editor. The driver by Shah was launched with a two-day event – ​​Art with the Legend – Ratan Parimoo.

PrintWeek spoke to the Shah about the book and the art of screen printing

DRS Arts Company uses a hand screen printing process to create screen prints. Depending on the number of colors in the original painting, usually between 25 and 50 colors, sometimes even more, many screens are prepared before the printing process of each screen begins, line by line.

DRS, formerly Marvel Art Gallery, was established in 2004 by Shah’s father, Dhanvi Shah. And although he was still in school, Shah, mingling with famous artists, found the paintings and the way they were produced, very fascinating. “Technology can speed things up and only sometimes produces unique and moving results that come from the hands of humans.”

Paintings (copy) by Ratan Parimoo

After assisting his father for two years, Shah joined Marvel (now DRS Arts Company) at the age of 17. The company has always focused on modern Indian art and contemporary Indian art. “At DRS, we understand and believe in documenting works that have heirloom value,” Shah says.

Shah traveled to London to explore the culture and understand international art, museums and art galleries and learned about international business when he was 19 years old. A year later, he made his curatorial debut with an exhibition featuring India’s top 50 artists. “I also became India’s youngest curator at the age of 20,” Shah proudly says.

The book
It was the artist, Ratan Parimoo, who was the reason Shah decided to write a book – his first. “Ratan Parimoo is not only a painter of the 1950s, he was a bold, carefree and true painter. An artist committed to his art and painted with conviction. Brave enough to explore his new style, Parimoo forged his own path as an artist as India searched for its post-independence identity. Browse the history of what is now called modern Indian art (which was then contemporary Indian art); I consider Parimoo to be one of the pioneers of abstract expressionism in India. He understood and painted pure abstraction. I consider myself very lucky to be able to write about a hidden gem of modern Indian art.

Through this book, Shah also wants to try to connect society to the artist and build that bridge between art lovers and non-art lovers. “The conductor gives me the opportunity to introduce people from our region and elsewhere to explain what art is or how it can be perceived? What is Abstract Art and Abstract Expressionism? It is not only a part of art education, but also a way of reintroducing to our generation and future ones what the previous generation of Indian modern painters did and to talk about their guts, their glory, their style and their intention.

The process
Interestingly, these editions also happen to be the first silkscreen on canvas of DRS and Abstract Expressionism on this scale. The previously printed edition had won the PrintWeek India Award in 2018.

The number of colors or screen used by the company was 95 and it took 60 days to complete 125 editions. Cloth/mesh screens of sizes 80, 100, 120 and 140 were used.

As Shah says, Parimoo directs his works as if he were a conductor of the symphony of expression and color. To print this work, Shah had to imagine himself as a conductor and the production studio as an opera house. “Our next goal was to introduce into this silkscreen the expressions that give meaning to the colors, the brushstrokes and the composition,” explains Shah.

Just like a musician, Parimoo has composed his ideas, his thoughts, his emotions and his feelings through the arrangement of shapes, colors, textures, materials and brushstrokes. “Emotion is expressed through colors, brushstrokes show intensity, depth or sensitivity through texture and align it with lines or patches. Sometimes its spontaneity also plays a part in the overall composition as a repeated or sustained background melody to balance the whole musical composition,” explains Shah.

For Shah, the real challenge was to revive this magic that the artist had created but this time with a different medium and a delicate surface for screen printing. We can see several parts have a relief effect which was achieved by applying several screens of the same color.

The silkscreen production process

Each stroke has raw emotion and expression, which adds aesthetic appeal to this screen print. The USP of this work is layered expressions. “White, pink and grays have almost five to six tones each. Thanks to our unique technique, we can simultaneously differentiate between the first and the last tone of this impression,” explains Shah.

To balance the transparent tonality of each color is a self-developed process that, Shah says, took time to develop. “We had to maintain every color tone of every drop, brushstroke, line and most importantly the fluid quality of the red. Blue and yellow patches balance the composition.

Complexity and registration
This work has certain qualities of being wild, fast, rough, impulsive, immediate, inspiring Shah to be fearless and innovative. “Anyone familiar with the process of screen printing will understand how difficult it is to match the registration of so many colors on a surface like canvas. The chances of fabric shrinking are high compared to paper, as the abstraction was a major risk that finally paid off.

The most powerful color, red is the highlight of this work. This was the last part of the printing process. A small error in color balancing, handling or registration would have meant a major problem in keeping this stunner. “Red is not limited to a patch or area, but spreads across the canvas forming shapes like dots, patches, flowing strokes. But, you can see how beautifully it was printed and it looks exactly like the artist just finished it in his studio.

Ratan Parimoo ‘The Conductor’ (hardcover) by Chaitya Dhanvi Shah. Rs 2,500.00 is available. Click here.
The Kindle version is available on Amazon.in


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