Mala Marwah essays

Magan Soma Parmar worked as a Studio Attendant of the Fine Arts, Baroda, for 18 years. On the 14th of August 1975 he succumbed to a prolonged ailment at the age of 39.

Working with students and teachers in the graphics department he showed an increasing interest and talent in printmaking and soon began making prints himself. Magan was an uninhibited artist; not having been trained to express himself unhampered by the laws of perspective or gravity, and accounted for the freshness in his work. The feeling here is capricious and sad at the same time, and projected in an associative language that relates to human concerns.

Magan showed a world that included both rural and urban elements; in this he combined both the poetic and the prosaic, organizing his environment in terms of meaning dictated equally by belief and experience. So that he could include, along with fantastical imagery based on elaborate mythology, a popular detail as in his drawing of a motor car in a field. In addition to being a stylistic record of his mind it also forwards the perennially curious phenomena of the individual who seeks to accommodate elements from his ‘conscious’ life into a background of ‘unconscious’ or ‘natural’ expression. His is a man-centred world, and he projects it with constance, where flocks, crowds, houses, fields, streams, animals and the fantastic are crowded, where small people have about a car with three wheels, or where the Badshah floats downstream on his Begum’s back.

In putting the image down on the block Magan in addition to direct drawing often introduced applied textures and ‘found’ objects (the last to obtain the braille effect), and his compositions, combining different views and angles within one frame, and crowded with straight and hatched lines, have a taut and low-gauge cacophony. Magan never had the need to engage in that vulgar extension of his resources called the tour de force; his preoccupation lay wit describing a particularised world : and there is a parity in his treatment of a Badshah and a pot of flowers. The image of man takes on a relative quality; in some places he is dwarfed, in others a confident giant. Asymmetry and ascending space compose his motif into an ingenious correlation of parts, an imagery which reveals both essence and outward appearance. In this Magan was truly unobstructed; he perceived ‘flat’ and ‘developed’ images with spontaneity. There is also a sense of indulgence in his work: few people have the ability to communicate humorous qualities through graphic means. Magan could apply his brush or pen with wit.

This is the mark of his technique : naïve rendering that displays a sheer delight in all created things, inspired by environment and fancy. It is said that because environment would include both the dead and the living, we also in a way refer in this category to the arena of the unconscious. In Magan’s work both fuse into an animated world of an artist who was forthright and unassuming, and therefore perhaps receptive to uncommon things.

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