Reticent Master in the Limelight

Posted on 2009-05-07
Established artist of Goa, Mr Vamona Navelcar hates coming under the public eye. This contemporary artist of ours, whose prowess in bold abstracts is well-established, prefers working quietly from home in village, Pomburpa.Nonetheless, a small collection of works are due for display at the Gallery Attic, Panjim, and the artist is resigned to chit-chat with the press. “I hate exhibitions and rarely venture out in the city,” he says before adding “this house is my inspiration as well as work place.”
So, what is he busy with these days? “Work,” is the reply pointing to the heaps of sketches and paper stacked around. Says, our man “I work intensely whenever inspiration strikes. It could be anything that fires my imagination, a rough stone picked up from the streets, a recent incident or even a mishap.”
With drawing to him “still a pleasure even after many long years of being at it” the artist, one learns, “works prolifically at the easel.” Most of his works at home are already sold, while others are part of his private collection. For instance, a visually evocative painting that the artist wants to keep to himself is on the recent Mumbai terror attacks in November done in bold strokes of black, red and green.
Soft spoken and rather shy, Mr Navelcar may come across as diffident, but he is also an individual who is quietly passionate about his profession. Firm on certain issues, he speaks freely on them. Thus, on the topic of work studios, one is told that having a stylish, well-designed studios with “neap stacks of brushes, palettes and own pictures hung on the walls is a definite put-off,” for a creative soul.
Says, the man, ““rtists should be able to take in discomfort and be indifferent to their surroundings. For instance, the great painter Francis Baker had his studio in the toilet. As for me, I never hang up my works on the wall, especially portraits. I hate people staring at me and make it a point to always turn the face to the wall after I have finished with it.”
Showing me around the old home, choc- a-bloc with odds and ends, the man gets talking of his early days. He says, “As a child, I drew in hiding away from the gaze of my father. Then, since everything those days was decided by parents, I joined ‘Chowgule’ as a accountant.” He continues, “I thank the scholarship to study art in Portugal. It was a miracle, a godsend for otherwise I would be a typical retired manager quietly walking my dog on the streets.”
Speaking of his long years in Portugal, which our man clearly enjoyed, he says “Coming back was painful, especially since I was so very at home there. The first Goan to get a scholarship to study in Portugal, after which I ended teaching art at the Lyceum at Mozambique and Portugal.”
Coming back to work, one is informed, “I work on abstracts, and have been influenced by the European artists. Among Indian masters whose work I admire, it would be MF Hussain, the Goan greats- Gaitonde and Newton Souza.”
What about landscapes? “Have done just one scenery in my life,” is the quick response, as clearly the passion lies in modern, flowing strokes. Says, Mr Navelcar, “Pretty pictures and scenic locales, to me, are unexciting. What is stimulating is detecting human or definite forms in strange things or situations.”