Prafulla’s “Eternal Space” Paintings are Abstract Form of Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth Prafulla, in her early career, painted with a palette knife. She used it with oil colours on canvas to paint landscapes and still life. You can see her mastery of knife in her paintings of the 1970s. She used brush occasionally to create portraits and figurative paintings. She rendered landscapes and a variety of themes in her work in the mid-course of her career. She brought out the emotional bond between mother and daughter in her series Mother and Child. She brought out the variety of native life in Mumbai in her series called Bombaywalla. But in the later stage of her journey as an artist, she turned to abstract art. This article is about this change and what the paintings signify.
It was in 2001 that she created a figurative painting of a modernistic view of Laxmi inspired by the painting of the Goddess of wealth by Baburao Painter which adorned the walls of the Dahanukar residence since 1950.
There is a striking similarity in postures of the reclining women clad in similar red sarees in the 2 paintings. Prafulla’s version of the Goddess was plain and simple; she did away with the crown, extra pair of hands and the lotus bed. But by accentuating the necklace and the bangles as symbols of wealth. Prafulla portrayed Laxmi in her human appearance.
But she was not happy with this mundane portrayal of Laxmi. It set her thinking. She wanted to show Laxmi in her ideological form. Prafulla knew that Laxmi meant flow of money. Therefore the real Laxmi was any activity which produced goods and services which generated cash flow. A factory producing goods is Laxmi. An office providing accounting or legal service is Laxmi. Prafulla subconsciously realised this concept of Laxmi and proceeded to paint this abstract form on canvas.
For creating this abstract depiction Goddess Laxmi, Prafulla changed her tools and took to painting with rollers. Rollers helped Prafulla to illustrate the unending flow of money by creating horizontal lines from one side of the canvas to the other. She illustrated the specialized product range by painting similar and repetitive forms. She illustrated valued services by painting horizontal bands but without any forms. A successful money making enterprise is generally well focussed on its main strength, which the management pundits call ‘core competence’. Prafulla illustrated this core competence by restricting her palette mainly to one colour. The single colour dominating the painting represented the main earning centre of the money-making enterprise. The forms in these roller-painted symbolisevaluable products moving in the space of the economy.She thereby subtly brought out the essence of the Goddess Laxmi in these paintings. She named the abstract Laxmi paintings as “Eternal Space”. Eternal because money changes hands but is not destroyed, it is eternally present in the space of the economy.
Prafulla’s “Eternal Space” paintings depicting Laxmi are therefore mainly made of one dominant colour. Prafulla created several of such Laxmi paintings in a variety of dominant colours to show different types of money-making enterprises. The single dominating colour in each painting shows that the enterprise is focussed on its main strength and its earning centre is well integrated. The innumerable hues and tints resting with the dominant colour in the painting denote a variety of related skills required by the management to steer the business effectively. The subtle shades merging gracefully with each other indicate smooth governance of the enterprise. Prafulla built all these qualities into her abstract painting to create the impression of a successful enterprise that effectively embraces its business environment.
A money-making business is the real form of Laxmi. Prafulla painted this abstract form emphasizing the qualities of a successful money-making enterprise. She brought out the multi-farious types of businesses by creating paintings of different dominant colours; red, blue, green, yellow, orange and so on.
Looking back one can say that when Prafulla painted Laxmi in human form, it sparked a sea change in her mind. The resultant enlightenment transformed her painting style to successfully portray the Goddess in abstract form on her canvases.