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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Extracts of comments from Art Critics

In his latest watercolours the painter reverts to the prime source of the muses - the Moon. By now stamped by human feet, the spectral orb is still the White Goddess, awakener of the imagination, for Kaul. And most assuredly moments of intensified perception are present in his finest works such as number 21. These perceptions are not other than those flashes when the objects at which we have been gazing stop being a flux of impressions and become intensely clear and important for us. We may not experience such illuminations very often, but they are common in our childhood. It is this order of experience the artist conveys. These illuminations could be called moments of vision of an unforgettable vividness and heightened perception. In Kaul's work the Moon casts its magic over the snow and the waters of a fabulous vale, and this memory is like a treasure in the vault of his mind. In this abstract best, it is an illumination of solitude at the heart of reality. The more genuine romanticism produces such an atmosphere even though this is arrived at by coming contact with the most commonplace of objects: a puddle or a shiny wrapper. Excessive self-consciousness is the foe of such vision.

Kaul's memories of mountains, streams and willows are transmuted flashes recalled in tranquility. Accidental they well may be but for every such artist they are like sparks thrown up from the centre of the creative imagination. The mood is maintained throughout and at its truest, achieves vitality and unity, harmony and proportion that the human mind pines for. The work is far from being naively realistic: it is tinged with the strangeness of sylvan light.

Keshav Malik, The Times of India (Dec. 14, 1992)

Manohar Kaul's "Mystique of the Moon" - a series of mountainscapes in watercolour - are now on view at New Delhi's All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society on Rafi Marg. His earlier large mountainscapes in oil have established him as a painter of landscapes. A senior painter in his 60s, Mr. Kaul has been exploring the medium of transparent watercolour for the past three years.

All the paintings have an undercurrent of nostalgic sadness peculiar to sensitive Kashmiri artists who were born and brought up in "The Valley of the gods". In this series, the artist dreams of the snow-capped peaks, the woodlands on the brow of a mountain overlooking a brook or a lake - all suffused with soft moonlight, all wrapped in silence.

The soft light is caught by the icy crags or by the ripples on the brook or the deafy haze of flowering treetops, and the rest is a surprising range of tonal nuances that spell out the dark areas. Mr. Kaul has fully used the transparent nature of watercolour for achieving a magic vision of forms in misty mountain air. The "tenebrism" or "gloomy lighting" which distinguished some of the major European painters of the ripe renaissance and Baroque periods seems to have been used by Mr. Kaul in his landscapes.

One particular aspect of the landscapes has intrigued this reviewer. In the landscapes where the orb of the moon is absent, the mystique of the moons is most fascinating: such as in Nos. 34, 33 and 5. Mr. Kaul's treatment of the medium is such that it makes the presence of the moon often redundant, because the softly lit up woodlands, and ripples in the rivers and lakes, and the diffused glow in the dark sky make the moon conspicuous even when it is absent.

Santo Datta, The Hindu (Dec. 18, 1992)

Manohar Kaul remembers the many visages of his motherland in his watercolours. Light played no important role in the large oils he did some years ago. Here he tries to seize the transformation of the landscape in moon light. It has brought a softness to the scenes which in some sense becomes a metaphor of the nostalgic mood in which they are now being recalled.

Krishna Chaitanya, The Hindustan Times (Dec. 20, 1992)

A pity that the painter had not put up work in this medium (water colour) in earlier shows! They are really exquisite as mountain studies. The man has expended all his long lasting knowledge of the mountains in these works. Many of them have been done from memory, but here memory is a better guide to creation than on-the-spot composition. For the painter, to commune with nature is to, "commune with divinity". Oh definitely!

Keshav Malik, Times of India (Jan. 29, 1991)

Manohar Kaul now past sixty-five has shown that he can paint too besides write. For some years he has been giving us landscapes in oils in large size. This time he offers watercolours in small format. Physical features deliquesce into diffuse but resplended colour - single tree loaded with all the gold of spring in a green meadow, an autumnal tree flaming by the edge of a blue stream - and colour has the freshness that suggests that your hand will be wet if you touch the surface of the water spread.

Krishna Chaitanya, The Hindustan Times (Jan. 27, 1991)

Manohar Kaul, who during the past decade put three large exhibitions in oils, all bringing glints and glances of Kashmir Himalayas, their vast amplitudes filled with divine peace, their benign postures, even their Shiva like aloofness (alas, his painting depicting the late Mrs. Gandhi gravitating towards Lord Shiva has gone out to Australia) has now at the age of over sixty five sprung a surprise on the viewers and art world (AIFACS) with his water colours dedicated to the same theme. The work is in small format. The scale of physical dimensions has got reduced without curtailing the qualitative dimensions of the inner soul; thereby demanding from colour more changed responses under the pressure of highly sophisticated skills in controlling its water diluted energies generating evocative tonalities amids thought provoking blends. What is indeed heart warming is that the creative act has acquired a new elan. The freshness and spontaneity which he brings to his scenes metamorphize a child's playfulness with his mother. Thoughtout Kashmir remained in Manohar's soul a sacred land.

There are works where the preception of water is not only fresh but you feel like touching their liquidity or shudder to place your finger on a galactic region depicted in the scene (No. 3). THe ampltitudes are live, atmospheric subtle effects have been gathered in myriads of tonalities the verdurous declivities trace a curve that plunges into the heart, the structuration of rocks has an ambiance that gathers its harmonies from the surrounding atmosphere and breathes it out into it. Overwhenming tribute.

K.L. Kaul, The Statesman (Feb. 1, 1991)

A lover of nature and a fine colourist, Mr. Kaul has saved some beautiful movements for us the fleeting moods of nature, which he spells out in terms of light. Colour becomes a secondary element. Luminous and emotionally evocative his paintings are a continuous process of reduction from a raw primary cessation of colour-light into his individual perception. His effortless handling of the medium reminds us the old world skill in watercolours.

Santo Datta, Indian Express (Jan. 1991)

Manohar Kaul, a noted painter from Kashmir, who has nearly four decades of artistic creativity to his credit is displaying forty of his recent water colours (AIFACS) - nostalgic scenes of divine nature of his homeland in its variety of landscapely physiognomy, nuances of colour and the spectacular changeable light. A record of his deep impressions of the Himalayan milieu; a soul uplifting phenomenon.

He has reverted to water colours after a long gap of time. Water colours are not an easy medium to handle but Kaul has explored the medium afresh to create striking innovations in its technique for capturing sublime vision of noble nature and the surprising variety of subtle textures and the sternness of geometric structures of rocks and cliffs.

Kaul has created a personal form to interpret the landscape - afresh and spontaneous rendering in the challenging medium of water colours. He has blended the improbable dream - like forms of the surrealistic landscape which lends his works romantic feeling. He reveals a remarkable power to create the atmosphere of the landscape in the soft richness of colour distributed across the surface of paper; a total experience of landscape as compared to a purely retinal one.

P.N. Mago, Patriot (Jan. 1991)



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