Award-winning artist Pratiksha Apurv, who happens to be spiritual guru Osho’s niece, has come out with a unique coffee table book – The Mystic and Her Colours. ‘Society’ reveals the artist and her book that combines her paintings and articles of spiritual nature, writes CSS Latha. Published in their October 2018 issue.
India’s famous canvas queen Pratiksha Apurv is not a new name to art lovers. This national award winner is famous in two ways – one for being the darling niece of spiritual guru Osho and the other as the most prolific canvas artist who has the maximum media representation for her contribution to art and spirituality.
A study of her art is in itself a guide to spiritual interpretation and what’s more, Pratiksha’s works and her construal of them has been recently published as a sleek coffee table book titled The Mystic and Her Colours.
Since 2011, Pratiksha has been a regular contributor to a weekly spiritual newspaper [The Speaking Tree, see more below, ed.] published by a renowned media house which has now been collated into this unique coffee table book combining two genres, writing and paintings, in a sense that defines her journey and all the experiences of listening to the existence.
“When you have Osho’s vision as a companion, the journey is bound to be childlike, absolutely incomparable joy. It was such a delight to have world-renowned filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj and playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj for the launch of the book in Mumbai,” reveals Pratiksha.
Vishal Bhardwaj, paying glowing tributes to this brilliant addition to the ‘flaunt-me’ genre of publications, said, “I never knew that spirituality can be painted. I always thought that spirituality was an inherent expression. To give such a tone to spirituality that cannot be expressed in words is very special. The silence that comes out can only be felt and not expressed.”
He further added, “Music too, I think, is one step short of silence. In fact, all the fine arts – music, painting and poetry – all lead us to silence, into nothingness, and this book is representative of all that. It is poetic, it is musical and it is art or painting on the surface – a combination of all three.”
Quite aptly said that! The Mystic and Her Colours is not a mere colourful collage of an artist’s paintings showcasing lines, colours and patterns. It is a visual imaging of man’s spiritual journey, giving a subtle lead into the concealed and muted aspects of the cosmic secrets to better the endeavour to evolve.
Singer Rekha Bhardwaj hailed the work of art saying, “The book is too beautiful. I have no words to explain. It’s to be observed and absorbed.” She further added, “I understand from Pratiksha that she listens to Osho’s discourses and prepares herself to start the painting. Every painting is a journey by itself.”
Pratiksha has most certainly come to stand alone on top with her brilliance as India’s best-known contemporary artist and spiritual writer. She has won the National Award for Painting in 2015-16, and has held solo shows in major cities of India. As mentioned before, this niece of the spiritual master was born into mystical wealth and wears many hats. She took sannyas when she was just 11, and spent her growing-up years at the Osho communes in Pune and US. In the late 1980s, she ventured into fashion designing and launched her clothing label ‘Oshonik’. Some of her clients included former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, cricketer Kapil Dev and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. Despite being a commercial success in the fashion world, Pratiksha, a mystical traveller, took to painting in 2003 and soon became a pioneer in meditative art, also known as objective art. [Discourse by Osho: Objective and Subjective Art, ed.]
Ruminates Pratiksha, “Sometimes I wonder whether Osho sowed the seeds for this book and for that matter my journey into the art world when he held my tiny little hands and guided me to the world of sannyas at the age of 11.” Fortunately, while growing up, she had a rich exposure to both the inner and outer world. Her subsequent move to Rajneeshpuram in USA afforded her another opportunity to witness how a desert was turned into an oasis with the love of a master. People from various nationalities came together under one roof to create a beautiful and harmonious society, a commune that was vibrant with true meaning of love, compassion and meditation. “Since I have my roots in Osho and my genes are that of Osho, I always had this thinking of creating something new, offering something unique to this world. And, I would like to say that with Osho’s blessings, I succeeded in creating a different space when I first joined the fashion world as a designer. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is no more, but I fondly remember how he liked the designs I made for him and even the selection of colours for a jacket.”
Similarly, there were many well-known personalities, who adored her Oshonik label of clothes for its simplicity and intricate designs. “Everything just happens, like it is predestined. My foray into the art world from glitz and glamour of the fashion world too was predecided by existence. I just picked up a canvas one fine morning and started painting. Honestly speaking, I never took any technical training neither for fashion designing nor for painting. Everything for me has been a learning experience directly from existence. I did not attend a single painting class and learned the minute details of art during this beautiful journey,” she enumerates the process to perfection.
Her long association with the late ex [Prime Minister] Vajpayee most certainly brings precious and fond memories. It was Atalji who had launched her first exhibition way back in 2007 in Delhi. “I remember, Atalji was mostly keeping to himself and was rarely going out. When I discussed with him about my plan to showcase an exhibition titled ‘Spiritual Odyssey’, his eyes brightened up. He felt very happy and readily agreed to inaugurate the exhibition. He kept the promise and came to the gallery for the inauguration. I remember vividly that he was smiling and feeling very happy. He had asked me continue my ‘Sadhna’.”
Quite a recluse herself, for Pratiksha each day dawns to give her an opportunity to delve deep into her inner odyssey. Solitude, silence and the canvas, the only sound one hears is the track of Osho’s talks playing in her studio. She loves spending hours on end giving shape to the words and thoughts of Osho in intricate and symmetrical designs. One wonders how, without any formal training, her works exhibit such a perfect alignment of intricate patterns, so accurately executed on huge canvases that at the end they almost seem like digital printing. The depiction of shadows and lights has a photofinish impact. Little wonder she has worldwide patrons of her art!
Yet another or rather, the core blessing that Pratiksha is conferred with, is the unconditional love and support from her husband Swami Apurv. The soul mates enjoy such an enviable compatibility that it almost seems like one-soul-two-bodies. Narayani Ganesan, daughter of the legendary Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and editor of The Speaking Tree, says, “Though her work draws heavily from all that she has been exposed to, having spent her formative years in Osho’s commune in Pune, the regular output is to a considerable extent because of the immense encouragement of Apurv, her friend, companion and life partner, who is a great enabler. Whether it is an exhibition of Pratiksha Apurv’s paintings or an event celebrating her work, he is always there, behind the scenes, and by her side. It helps that they met during their days as followers of Osho, seeking and discovering not only existential truths but also each other, along the way!”
The Mystic and Her Colours was conceived when [in 2011] Pratiksha started writing regular columns elaborating on her paintings. As she was painting and simultaneously writing on spiritual themes, the book finally started taking shape. “The synthesis of canvas and white spaces between the lines felt like my brush and pen had caught something overflowing from existence. While my artworks inspired by Osho’s vision became colourful notes, the articles – now part of this book – function as a flute. This unique book is an example that canvas speaks too, but its language is that of a flower and I hope all seekers can experience its fragrance.” In fact, the articles and artworks really complement each other.
During the initial days of painting, there were certain occasions when she needed to explain a particular theme on the canvas. It dawned on her that in order to reach out to a wider audience and seekers on a spiritual journey, she may need support of another medium. And thus began the journey of writing regular columns for various publications. All of them were unique since she used to write the column explaining her painting. The canvas is the core and the column is the fountain around it. Readers just loved it and the number of views and hits on the digital version accompanied with comments indeed motivated her to write on almost every theme that she has painted on canvas. “That is why I say The Mystic and Her Colours is a confluence of artworks and essays totally soaked in my uncle Osho’s vision, and allows readers to witness the oneness of existence.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his foreword to the book, made a special mention to her ability to not only paint but also to write her thoughts on her musings. “Guided by the external wisdom of her uncle, she writes meditatively to strike a balance between the outer and the inner worlds. Her writings are simply very profound and give us a peek into the divine and nudge us to awaken our state of being.”
The paintings featured in the book are weaved together with lyrical prose, explaining and elaborating on the themes and sometimes explaining subtle nuances of art. Her idea behind this first of its kind coffee table book combining two genres is to explain a radically new vision for individual growth. It also helps in redefining various dimensions of the spiritual path and the sutras of consciousness for a joyful life that unfolds each and every moment, in the here and now. “I am sure you will find these paintings illustrating pure emptiness, a state of no-mind. And I hope the words penetrate the innermost core of being of the reader, creating a synthesis between the inner and outer world. For me, each painting is like a flower, and words illumine like a magical lamp, shedding gentle light on the mystical aspects of my journey with an expression of deep gratitude to Osho, my uncle and spiritual master.”
The heart-warming response from art lovers, art critics, media and seekers after the first exhibition thrown open by Atalji, effectively paved the way for many more shows across the country. She completed 12 solo shows in major cities including Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Goa and Ahmedabad. Prime Minister Modi had inaugurated the show at Gujarat’s capital. “During our discussion before the inauguration day, the Prime Minister was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was a self taught artist. His words at the launch still reverberate in my mind when he praised the collection, saying these paintings are a confluence of knowledge, Sanskar, meditation and art.”
Years later, Modi inaugurated yet another solo show, ‘Mystical Moments’ in Delhi in 2016 along with the then President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari. It was a historic occasion when all three top leaders of the country came together to inaugurate the show. Again 2016 brought yet another good news when Lalit Kala Akademi under the Ministry of Culture bestowed Pratiksha with the coveted National Award. It was a huge honour and recognition of meditative art or objective art in the country.
Since ‘Mystical Moments’ was showcased at the gallery of Rashtrapati Bhavan, not many art lovers could make the trip. So Pratiksha organized an exhibition that would be open for all. It took her some time but finally it travelled to Lalit Kala Akademi gallery in March 2018 and was launched by the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who paid glowing tributes to her artwork saying, “What can you say about a person who became enlightened and inspired by Osho since childhood. Pratiksha is not just painting her feelings and message on the canvas but rather becoming one with the paintings. One has to understand and see, and more importantly, one has to absorb the message in her paintings in the inner core like a light.”
Pratiksha Apurv can be called India’s pride as she presents the Indian spiritual wealth and its treasure trove of art in one stroke. Her artworks have been a subject of study for research students of Indian universities. The unique and the first of its kind coffee table book is worth processing both for art lovers and spiritual seekers.
societymag.co.in – edits and links by Osho News