Observing and interacting with local people, taking photographs, drawing and painting is what Hyderabad-based artist Fawaz Tamkanat has been busy with the last several months. And the result is Walking My Streets — a collection of paintings, his first solo show in India, that encapsulates the essence of his home city. “I’ve painted things that are often ignored while walking on the streets of Hyderabad, such as the daily-wage workers, animals like cows, dogs and donkeys and even the architecture. I’ve depicted the hoardings and modern malls as well as the beautiful old structures of the city, and juxtaposed them together,” he says referring to his works that are acrylics on canvas. Each painting is life-size, approximately six-foot long and hence it’s important for the artist to interact with his subject.
“We tend to ignore many things that exist simultaneously and knowing the stories behind them makes a difference. There was a rickshaw girl who I followed around for a few days. She refused to speak to me but the confidence on her face and dignity of labour was amazing. Sometimes subjects walk into my canvas, like the street dogs and cats that I often feed,” explains Fawaz, who plans to paint other cities too and wants to capture the experience of travelling in the local trains in Mumbai. While some of his works are much in detail, others translate the essence of the area. “I’ve used a bright colour palette as the streets are noisy — so one needs loud shades put together in a harmonious way. I have in the past, also done a series of black and white, where the line was more important than the colour,” he says.
Every few years the artist changes his subject, and his travels have had a large influence on his works. Most of his shows have been in Europe, often centered on Danish architecture, erotic art and even body painting. “I will be holding an exhibit in Switzerland next year that will be focussed on street scenes, including those in Europe. I’ve been inspired by artists like Picasso, David Hockney, Van Gogh and even Anish Kapoor. I admire good works of art whether it’s by an unknown artist or known one. Sometimes colour inspiration comes to me from children’s paintings, especially my nephew’s watercolours,” he says.