Where it’s night all day, and a disorienting maze of dimly-lit tunnels robs men of their identity and beasts of their sturdy resilience. Where, as Tagore poignantly expresses in Raktakarabi (Red Oleanders), miners are reduced to nameless numbers and letters. There, in the sunless dungeons of coal mines, Prabhakar Pachpute’s art is fired.
Born and raised in a region of coal mines and cotton fields in Maharashtra, Pachpute has seen up close how dehumanizing mining can be, how it violates the earth and poisons the air and forces farming communities to migrate to other livelihoods and lives elsewhere.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that Pachpute’s imagery has the palpable simmer of an activist’s anger and a romantic’s despair over loss of nature’s wealth and man’s humanity, of the traditional bonding of earth and hearth that accompanied the geographic anchoring of cultures, of the past and of memory.
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