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Critics Review

I saw Prafullatai Dahanukar for the first time in the year 1964 at the Sir J.j.School of Art/ Bombay I had come from Kolhapur along with my friend Usha to appear for the Diploma Examination in painting. While isitting outside the examination Hall in the recess, we saw a tall slim lady with short hair and wheatish complexion, talking with other professors. We were much impressed by her frankness and enthusiasm. When we asked other students about her, we came to know that she was the Goldmedalist Painter Prafulla Joshi and was probably one of the examiners.

In the year 1972 I Came to Bombay again to Join Sir J.j.School of Art as an Asst.Lecturer in History of Art. My curiosity about her increased when I saw her landscape of Paris in the collection of the Art School. Then I learnt that after her getting Diploma in painting,' she got a study-cum-travel Grant of the French Government and had the opportunity to visit Paris. Naturally She also visited the other galleries of Europe. This resulted into developing maturity in her apprach to painting.

Prafullatai always kept her busy in the activities in the art world of Bombay as well as the programs of music and dramas. Though she lovedmusic she chose painting as her forte. She constantly kept experimenting about using different methods iti her colour application and form. She also had her studio in the Bhulabhai Desai Campus and naturally hadopportunities to participate in the cultural activities which helped to bring new changes in her style.

Her exhibition in 1956, included her paintings dealt with the subject of Ragas and Raginis. She used thin bold colour schemes and lyrical powerful line which showed influence of various miniature schools of traditional Indian paintings. Her exhibition of paintings in 1959 showed the influence of expressionistic school in application of colour by using knife. It gave the mat surface as well as fresh look to her paintings. Gradully the contour-lines,jdisappeared in her paintings and the figures were presented through the Juxtaposition of tonal values. Her painting 'Hippie shows this type. The atmosphere of the Goa beach is suggested with i few lines. The compositions also showed utter simplicity andi minimum forms.

Several other subjects also entered her paintings e.g. 'Mother and Child' series or the 'Bombay wall as" reflected the environments of Bombay showing the 'Baloonwala', 'Kulfiwala, Bhelfcuriwalls at Chowpatty.

Though the figurative subjects entered in her paintings, her inclination towards abstraction finalised in her last phase with horizontal brush strokes reminding the landscape. It was but natural that the beautiful nature of her motherland Goa, repeatedly entered her paintings. The bold strokes, bright colourSchems and free colour application became the specialqualities of her paintings. Her mindscapes of this style suggesting the abundance of nature and spiritual quality.

Prafullatai also experimented with the other types in art. She also learnt enameling, graphics, as well as executed murals. In these she used variety of materials Like scrap of metal, pieces of coloured glass, pieces of different coloured wood as well as tiles. All these, were arranged in such a harmonious arrangement that it gave striking effect. Her large murals at Dubai as well as in Bombay give evidences of her skillful arrangement and colourful effect.

Though her nature apparently suggested that she was enjoying life fully, her visits to the orphanage at Lonawala, her sympathy towards the sufferings of the artists and readiness to help them shows her introvert nature. As she took active part in art-activities and musical as well as other cultural activities in Bombay and helped the artists, She became the prominent figure. As a president of Bombay Art Society, Art Society of India, Artist Centre, she contributed immensely to the Art World. The painters, sculptors, musicians and other Art Galleries in Bombay went toher, whenever they were in need. Her sad demise was a great loss for the cultural field of Maharashtra.

Dr. Nalini Bhagwat (Art Historian, Art-Critic and a painter)

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