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Curatorial Note:

Prabhakar Shivram Barwe | Painter, designer, writer, poet, thinker

March 16, 1936 – December 6, 1995

Prabhakar Barwe is known in the world of painting as a sensitive genious painter who has established his own distinctive style in modern Indian art. Born in Nagaon near Alibag in Raigad district. His father, Shivram Barwe was a sculptor; young Prabhakar developed an innate love for painting. Barwe started studying painting due to the encouragement of renowned sculptor, Vinayak Pandurang Karmarkar. He completed his formal education in fine arts and painting at the Sir J. J. College of Arts in 1959. He joined the Benares branch of Weavers Service Center in 1961 and then moved to join the Mumbai branch in 1965. Barwe wanted to be a full-time painter, utterly dedicated to his art and so decided to take voluntary retirement from his job in 1982. Prabhakar Barwe died on 6 December 1995 in Mumbai.

In his career, Barwe did nine solo exhibitions and participated in almost 12 national and international exhibitions. His first solo exhibition was at the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1961. He participated in ‘Six Indian Painters’ in Titograd (Yugoslavia) in 1985. He received the grant given by I.C.C.I and got the opportunity to travel to Yugoslavia, France, and Turkey. During his European endeavours, he visited many famous museums and art galleries. In 1988, he received a Residency Fellowship Grant from the Yado Artist Colony, as well as a scholarship to travel to the United States.

In 1990, the book ‘Kora Canvas’ was published by ‘Mauj Prakashan’, which was an introspective essay about the various elements of visual art. In the year 2013, Shanta Gokhale translated the book in English titled ‘Blank Canvas’ and it was published by ‘Bodhna Foundation’. Apart from this, Prabhakar Barwe’s writings on artistic and creative ideas have been published in many Marathi magazines and newspapers. Barwe has also written poems and short stories. Under the Title, ‘Kimaya’ he has written more than 100 short poems, which aptly showcase his creative prowess. We can see his poetic imagination through his visual expressions as well.

‘Inside the Empty Box’, curated by Ms. Jesal Thakkar in collaboration with Bodhna and the National Museum of Modern Art, Mumbai was a monumental exhibition of Prabhakar Barwe’s work organised in 2019. Meanwhile, Bodhana Arts & Research Foundation and Popular Prakashan published the book ‘Chitra-Vastu Vichar-Prabhakar Barwe’.

From the extensive collection of Zapurza Museum of Art and Culture, we have displayed selected artworks by Prabhakar Barwe. The artworks are not displayed chronologically. The collection includes paintings from the decades of 60, 70 and 90. This is a testament to the creativity and experimentation of the artist. The changing stages of style, the imagery as well as his method of handling different mediums will be observed. From his geometric shapes to his inventions of various objects-images an array of creativity can be seen in his paintings. It also shows the journey from the direct use of bright colors to the mild hues in the enamel. The changing hues and color application indicate the timely mindset of the artist. For example, some of the mixed color medium paintings of the show his experimentation with color, symbolic suggestion of objects and fluid sensitivity.

The irrational arrangement of the various object images in the picture, the space given to each object-image and the instantaneous exuberance in the composition take the pictures of Barwe not only at the visual level but also beyond it. The objects in Barwe’s paintings are free from functional meaning. The combination of objectivity and emotionality, which was a feature of his personality, can easily be seen in his paintings. This is the highlighting characteristic of Barwe’s art.

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