‘Rickshaw-wala’ | Varanasi, India
Indian Artist Shikha Patel's project series is meant to acknowledge the very hard-working rickshaw-walas (drivers who pull two-wheeled carts to transport people), whom are often overlooked, and yet are an integral of daily life in Varanasi.
Since I live in one of the oldest and culturally rich cities in India, Varanasi, I am surrounded by many sources of inspiration. They grab my attention and move me to paint. It may be something from my surroundings, or it may come from my inner consciousness. Here I am simply presenting some of the works that were inspired by a very common but overlooked piece of our surroundings: the rickshaw.
The rickshaws of the city , especially here in Varanasi, grabbed my attention while I was moving through its streets. And not just the rickshaws, but the rickshaw-walas, existing in a beautiful combination, roaming through the lanes of the city. The amazing coordination between the rickshaws and their drivers inspired me both directly and indirectly.
I am trying to provide a spiritual glow to a very ordinary object, that we never pay attention to in our daily life. For us they are just means of transportation.
But here, through my paintings, I tried to look at those who make a living and survive on this common mean of transportation, and I tried to convey something about their lives.
When we need it we call it. And already the way of calling it shows how superficially we look at it. We call a rickshaw... even though we know we are actually calling a rickshaw-wala, not just a rickshaw. This is what makes a rickshaw inseparable from its driver. The very simple and real bond between the two touches me each time I see them.
The quality of attachment between a living subject and a non-living object drove me to paint the difficult and simple lives that we commonly ignore. My goal was to direct the attention of the viewer towards one of the living subjects in our society. So I chose a real subject from my surrounding, and interpreted it in my paintings, where I could offer it an emotional platform, with the love and respect that it generally never receives from the society.
I tried to glorify the presence of the rickshaw and of the rickshaw-wala. I painted in details some of the small elements, including the amazingly painted typical motifs that we not don’t even look at when we daily use the rickshaw. They are traditional and highly decorative, and I tried to paint them in the same way by keeping their original beauty and making them more visible to the viewer.
I enjoyed playing with acrylic and canvas on the elements of these motifs in the background of my paintings, where I feel free to connect my emotions with my subject matters, and trying to capture the mood as well as some resting moments of the rickshaw drivers. After such a laborious work, exhausted, they take rest on the seat of their rickshaw, which becomes their resting couch.
To see more images to the Rickshaw-wala series click HERE.