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“My Inner Urge Made Me The Artist”- S.K. Sahni

Posted by Rana Ashish Singh
May 27, 2017

S. K. Sahni has devoted several decades of his life to art. Over an Email conversation he talks about his journey as an artist, and his views on art in India and abroad:

Ashish: What is the story behind you becoming an artist?
S.K. Sahni: I got interested in art when I was studying in class VIII in 1952. I started drawing but mostly coping images from magazines. Later on when I was studying in Inter-Science in a College at Ludhiana, I studied many books on Art and as per instructions written in those books, I did many works. In this way I learn many basics principles and decided to go to an art college. I went to JJ School of Art, Mumbai in 1958. I got job as an artist in Bal Bhavan in 1962 and later on joined National Gallery of Modern art in 1972 and finally retired from there as its Keeper in 1995.

All these years, all my spare time, left over from office and family affairs. have been devoted to my art.

Ashish: What inspire you to put your energy into art?
S.K. Sahni: I certainly need no outside stimuli to do my work. It is my inner urge which forces me to put my energy into art. It is almost similar to ‘we eat when we are hungry’.

Ashish: What materials do you use in your paintings?
S.K. Sahni: Mostly I am working with acrylic on canvas.

Ashish: Who is/are your favorite artist(s)? And why?
S.K. Sahni: There are many Indian and Western artist who have worked closer to geometrical abstractions such as Albers, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Gaitonde, Padamsee Akbar etc.

Ashish: As an artist what do you think needs to be done in order to reach out to more people?
S.K. Sahni: The most important is to improve our Art Education system in schools which would create awareness in young minds about Art. All Community Centers should have facilities for art activities and for Exhibitions. Town Planners to plan Art Centers as a part of their planning of any new town ship.

Ashish: What differences do you find in the audience of India and abroad?
S.K. Sahni: Since general public in India is not much aware and is hardly exposed to this visual language of art, there is not much response from them. Further in India Art Objects are purchased like investments in shares.

In west situation is quite different. Each one there as a child had experienced art as mode of expression. So when they grow up, they readily accept fresh ideas and individuality of the artist as a core to the Art.

Ashish: Is art limited to some classes in India? If so what are the reasons behind it?
S.K. Sahni: Yes! It is very much limited to some classes. Reason I have already stated in my answer №7. Further no research of any kind has been undertaken so far in India in this regards.

Ashish: How do you see the economics of art in India?
S.K. Sahni: One cannot just survive on Art in India. Most of the artists have to undertake some kind job like Art Teacher or depends upon family or wife’s earning. However, there are few exceptions in this regards.