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At home, away from home

Sarah Berry | New Delhi |

In love with painting but think you can’t make it? Or you simply want to take up the challenge of painting blindfolded? Is a wall just a wall to you? Well, maybe it is time to change your perception. Welcome to the world of Pablo Ramirez Arnol. This unique artist, based currently in Mumbai, is working with different communities and institutions — among them several schools and colleges — to bring more of Argentine art to India. Arnol, who has an experience of 17 years in teaching art to students including those who are visually impaired, studied at the National School of Fine Arts, Prilidiano Pueyr redon in Buenos Aires.

So what has been his inspiration behind promoting Argentine art in India? Arnol explains, “Argentine art is very vast. The similarities between both Argentina and India, as far as art is concerned, can be observed in the common search for one’s roots and identity, interpretations made by generations, leading to new developments in the artistic proposals of both countries. Here, in India, I always keep my senses open and receptive to diverse stimuli, as India provides a magnificent aesthetic contribution of colours, aromas, sounds and sights — so much so that I, almost always, find answers to my introspective and reflective questions.”

Arnol, who made a huge mural painting at Mumbai Central Station in 2016; painted yet another one, along with 30 other people for the Kala Ghoda Fest. He views these two initiatives as a unique bonding between both countries. Besides this, he plans to hold workshops for children. “As an art teacher, I find the main challenge lies in the phrase ‘I cannot do’. This blockage is important to remove, the first step being in finding the master in yourself, subsequently followed by guidance and training.” Arnol’s plan for this year is to paint a wall in Mumbai, using the art of mural painting, as a symbol of India’s 70 years of independence. This project will be executed along with students from five schools, with whom he has worked in the past.

Arnol’s workshops are an interesting blend of concepts. One of them “I AM” emphasises on the discovery of the self, the created and the creator. Another unique workshop is for the visually challenged. What led him to this endeavour? Arnol elaborates, “You see, everyone can paint. It is the determination behind exploring the self. I remember being inspired by an elderly lady, who was blind, had left her brushes a long time back, but wanted to rediscover herself and her creative skills in art. I am happy to say that she found a new form of painting through experimentation. Actually, aromas are rich colours in the mind and together we developed a palette of colours.

“Initially, she chose to do abstract forms, but then moved on to figurative styles using threads smeared in glue that gave her a sense of perception. I remember another student, blind from birth, who was in love, and interpreted his love as the sun but sideways. It is essential for a teacher to liberate a student by allowing him/her freedom of expression.”

In today’s world, where stress is rampant, a common solution is the expression of the self. What does Arnol feel about art being used as a therapeutic medium? “Art is a form of expression. It is all about the fall and rise, discovery and re-discovery. When an individual is stressed, it means a deviation, in some way, from the natural path of the self. Art is inspiration, wisdom and self-improvement. It is a passion, and when that stage is reached, there is no question of stress.” In the words of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, “Individuality of expression is the beginning and the end of all art.” How true.