Paintings about the Goan way of life
Café catches up with popular Goan artist John Pereira, whose portraits, which capture an era of Goa that is slowly fading into oblivion, have become the image of Goemkarponn for manyEvery true blue Goan has spent at least some time reminiscing about the glory of the past, from the aesthetic architecture and marvellous nature landscapes, to the simple customs associated with the old way of life. So when a young painter captures the beauty of the state in a way that instantly grabs the attention of the people from across Goa, it strikes a chord with that feeling of wanting to preserve what Goans cherish, for posterity. John Anthony Pereira’s portraits speak a thousand words on these Goan topics, which are close to the humble young artist’s heart. “Goan culture also plays a key role in my work. I believe culture is the backbone of every civilisation. Like the many topics I have based my artworks upon, if that collapses, everything else goes down with it,” adds the Fatorda based artist. “Sadly, most of the places I’ve painted have changed drastically within few months. So, for me it’s a race against time, a kind of documentation in paints to gather fragments of the beautiful Goa that was once known to be,” John continues, when asked about what inspired him to paint an old Goan ancestral house, which is a popular favourite on social media. “The ‘Goa’ of my childhood seems way too different from what it is now. I will continue doing what I do best and I hope my works will have something to contribute for the future generations to come,” adds John, who graduated from Goa College of Art and specialised in painting. In his paintings, he tries to capture the essence and mood of the subject – the colours, the people and surroundings that harmonise the place. “It’s more like I’m painting feelings of nostalgia you may say,” John quips. Elaborating further on his technique, John explains that ‘light’ is the chief element in his works. “My inspiration of painting comes from the ‘Chiaroscuro’ technique of the 16th Century ‘Baroque’ greats Bernini and Caravaggio. Baroque art has captivated my soul,” adds John. Apart from watercolour landscapes, he paints portraits in acrylics and other mediums. While his favourite colour is black, he speaks about how he never uses a direct black colour on any of his artworks. “I use colours to set a certain mood for the painting. So each painting will feel different, yet will have a distinctive style that suggests it’s my work,” says John. As the conversation veers to how passion can drive and motivate an artist, sometimes making them work from dawn to dusk to dawn continuously, John speaks about instances where he had had often stayed up till past four am in the morning to complete a painting. “Once you start, nothing else can bother you,” he says. While he currently works as a freelancer, painting wall mural designs, he juggles time to create his artworks at home. John however feels that the Goan art space could be better. “As a Goan artist, all I can say is that there’s no scope in art. Being an art teacher in school is an option considered by many, but as an independent artist, you have to create your own path by working hard,” says John. On a more positive note, he points out that he had chosen this path to do what he does best and that it’s a privilege to be an artist. His love for painting started right from a young age; he was in primary school when he realised that this is something he could do and enjoy. Thus it became his profession and, in many ways, a seamless love story with paintings. “I watch a lot of art documentaries of various great artists, and by learning about their lives and works, I feel inspired every day,” says John, when asked if he emulates any role models. When asked to comment about the high praise he receives, he acknowledges that it has helped him immensely, both in professional networking and also as a form of encouragement. However, he feels that he can always do better. “I’m never fully satisfied with my work and always feel the next painting has to be the best...” John concludes.
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