Chronicler of Traditional Contemporary Times

Artist Shashikant Dhotre is a household name today, especially on social media circuits, where his portraitures of rural women at leisure leave the viewers spell bound. These works are rendered in colour pencils and pastels on black coloured paper and this has been the trademark style of Shashikant since he began creating art works. The artist chooses to portray girls and women of different ages, from different social backgrounds as seen at leisure or lost in their own world. One can instantly relate to the way the artist brings forth the expressions of the individuals effortlessly. In some of the large works, there are groups of women engaged in certain activities like grinding pulses to flour on a rotary stone mill, these objects are rare in urban scenarios however in the villages these are still in use in certain places. The application of henna / mehendi on the palms of each other seems to be another ritual which women perform in anticipation of a festival or a celebration in the family like a marriage ceremony. Over the years, the compositions have dealt with numerous situations in which these women protagonists are seen alone, with objects like a fish bowl, etc, a metaphor of limitation introduced into the work by the artist.

In his recent works which transit from the traditional portraiture scenarios to a more contemporary portrayal, Shashikant has chosen to use the very same lexicon of the Solapur Saree. The quintessential garment which is a leitmotif of most of his portraiture works becomes the medium of the works. Be it the large scale humming bird nest made out of ripped strips of sarees, or the rows of saree border phalluses, lined up as in a feministic statement on the male body. The patch worked cut outs of human stomachs, made from sarees of women labourers working in the cities or towns, sewn together to create a shelter hints at the socio-economic status of the road workers and their families.

Many of Shashikant’s recent works address the human condition. The plight of families who are daily wage labourers in large cities, the way women are exploited at every level, the problems and immense determination of these women to still find balance and hold fort with dignity in utter dire circumstances, all gets reflected in Shashikant Dhotre’s intense engagement with the people of his milieu and the aesthetic he has developed from it.

Shashikant Dhotre lives hand works in Mumbai.


About the Author:

A marine biologist by training, Sushma Sabnis has been pursuing her interest in painting and writing since she left her career as a scientist over a decade ago. With a few solo and group exhibitions to her credit in Mumbai and Delhi, Sushma has also been instrumental in bringing young contemporaries together for a series of curated exhibitions called Adwaita, a platform for arts created by her.  In 2012, she launched herself into full time art writing and her essays and features have appeared in noted art journals including Art & Deal and Creative Minds, Arts Illustrated. She has been a contributing editor to the online magazine CartAnArt. She also manages The Art Daily and Art Tehelka, two online platforms for art writing and her reviews on art shows, art festivals have appeared in leading news papers. She has written several catalogue essays, descriptions and forewords for noted artists and painters and also introduced through profile writings, many of the young Indian contemporary artists.