Vira interviews Meera and Premendra, the printer of some high quality reproductions of her paintings
Those who have seen Premendra’s photos and design work know about his subtle feeling for beauty and his love for nature and silence. His sense of beauty and appreciation for things aesthetic and art may be owing to his family, as his father was a passionate hobby photographer and his mother a musician.
The close friendship between Premendra and the Japanese painter Meera goes back many years. For him, Meera’s art is directly connected to Osho, for in her entire oeuvre she expresses Osho’s vision. At the same time, her paintings – whether done in ink, acrylic or water colors – are completely rooted in nature.
Asked what is so special about Meera’s paintings, Premendra explains, “When I look at one of Meera’s paintings, I feel directly transplanted into nature, totally relaxed; they enrich me inwardly, they inspire me. It is as if they want to call me forth from my limited vision of the world into another world, where all limits dissolve for our ordinary senses, like a call of freedom! I have known Meera’s paintings for many years, but never ever have I felt, ‘Oh, this one I know!’ Every time they appear to be completely new.”
By the end of 2009, Premendra was finally able to satisfy his heart’s desire of long standing: to be able to manufacture high value reproductions of Meera’s paintings. How did this come about?
“I have one of Meera’s paintings at home which I love very much, but can’t put on the wall anymore, since its colors have faded much through the impact of the sunlight. With this exquisite painting I could witness the ageing process over a stretch of just 25 years; it became paler and paler to the point of being almost unrecognizable. I had already been looking around whether and how it is possible to slow down this sometimes rapid decay.
“I was often musing if it wouldn’t be nice if more than just a handful of people were able to enjoy Meera’s paintings in their original freshness and powerful expressiveness. They would easily balance the majority of contemporary art, which generally just makes me feel sick. Most modern artists merely express the madness of our society, calling it art, while arrogantly despising those who in this day and age can still seek beauty and silence in art.
“I do not imply that these modern artists have no passion and originality. Artists are highly sensitive people, intelligent and dying to break away from all the mediocrity around. Often, however, their fine antennas are tuned to the collective madness of society and the lack of any meditation experience makes them prisoners of the common social values and norms.
“To me, Meera is far removed from that normal art. On the contrary, her paintings mirror her love for Osho. At least that’s how I see it.”
About ten years ago Premendra made his first attempt at reproducing his favorite Meera painting as an offset print. “Although the print seemed fairly acceptable by daylight, it lost its quality dramatically by artificial light, so I wasn’t particularly happy with the result. Offset printing simply cannot render many of the subtler color shades, hence a lot of the shades were just missing, making the prints appear flat and devoid of most of their vivaciousness. In any case, no art print can really come close to the original. Yet the technological standard of art reproduction has continually improved over the years, so that nowadays incomparably much better prints have become possible. Today, there are simply breathtaking papers and inks on the market, facilitating astounding prints.
“It took me considerable time to find out how to translate the subtle vibrations, the energetic details, the depths of the colors, the complex play of light and shade into print technological know-how, so as to come as close as possible to the original. After an intensive search I finally came upon a printing machine which can, due not only to exquisite inks, produce overwhelmingly brilliant color prints – I use paper from the German firm Hahnemühle with four hundred years of experience in paper making behind them. Their color stability lasts for several generations and is therefore imperishable, and they render the liveliness and uniqueness of the originals close to a hundred percent. Managing a reproduction of the whole depth, Meera’s whole impact at the moment of painting, is surely illusory, but in my eyes what counts most, is to correspond to the original as exactly as possible.
“I know that many people love Meera’s paintings as much as I do. There will be a limited print run – at the moment the idea is a maximum of 100 prints per painting.”
I was present when Premendra and Meera met in Pune and he showed her for the first time a number of his art prints. For minutes together, Meera is visibly beside herself… Then she turns to me, whispering, “I think they’re better than the originals, don’t you?”
Whereupon I ask her what she thinks of the fact that now her paintings can be reproduced?
She says, “My feeling is that Premendra understands what I want to say with my work and what I would like to express with Osho’s guidance. I never had a prefabricated message to pass on. I want to leave people total freedom in what they perceive in my paintings or what fantasies they stir in their imaginations. Or in other words, let them pick whatever they need.
“I remember how Osho once gave me such a hit with a Zen stick when he said to me: ‘Perfectionism is a disease!’ What? Perfectionism?! Hadn’t all my Japanese conditioning, even at the art academy, prepared me for just that: ‘Be reasonable, logical, perfect – that is what counts!’ So I had been struggling to better myself continuously. It was only Osho who finally taught me to be spontaneous, to stop trying to be perfect, not to exert myself. Perfection only makes you tense, just relax! And how can one paint a blossom when one is tense. That never works!”
“I had no idea about Premendra’s project,” she continues. “We didn’t conspire and plot how to make a lot of money! No, he just went ahead on his own – that’s what I love! No contract, no stress, just letting everything happen by itself. And the quality is incredible. I don’t even dare touch these prints…you get the feeling the ink is still as fresh as dew. And you know, since the print is the second generation of the painting, it is more objective – and therefore more silent and clearer. As far as I am concerned, this whole thing has sparked off something in me, it helps me to let go of the originals…”
In the autumn of 2010, Premendra visited Meera in Japan, where she keeps quite a few of her paintings. Now he is already preparing another series of Meera art prints. He has selected many paintings – several of which Osho had personally chosen for the covers of his books. Meera fans may look forward now to hanging their favorite Meera painting on the wall – almost in the original, that is.
Text by Vira, translation by Nirvano – first published in German Osho Times