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Painting faces

Strips of credit cards, scalpels, nails, kitchen knives and forks - these are what you will find accompanying painter Sanjay Thapar’s palette of paints. The artis, who takes pride in his choice of tools, makes little to no use of the paintbrush to depict the many faces he comes across during his travels and finds innovative ways to paint his canvas.


An untitled work by Sanjay Thapar

The face of a little old lady he encountered during his travels through the remote villages of Vietnam four years ago comes alive through his black and white portrait. “As soon as I returned home, I knew I wanted to paint her. All I had was a group photograph one of my friends took.

But her beautiful face stood out in a crowd. Using a paintbrush to paint her was too run-of-the-mill. Instead, I decided to make a hole in the tube of black paint and used it as a henna cone,” explains Thapar, who took about four months to complete that canvas. “It was a tough task. Each time I made a mistake I had to start afresh on a new canvas,” he adds. But the painting, which was sold at Thapar’s last exhibition in Dubai, was such a success that he is now planning an entire series using this technique.

At his first ever solo exhibition, currently on at Jehangir Art Gallery, Thapar believes the striking painting of a turbaned, bearded man is most likely to be a hit. “I spotted this extremely wise-looking man on one of our family trips to Rajasthan,” recalls the former ad-man, who was enamoured by the look in the man’s eyes. “Ig you kook carefully, you will notice the texture of the beard. That comes from using the back of the brush instead of the hair. Again, this is extremely tedious work - one stroke is all you get,” asserts Thapar.

According Thapar, who is exhibiting 36 paintings, his pictures do all the talking. Seeking out faces that interest him, Thapar never picks a mounted canvas to paint his muse. He throws the canvas on his wall, mounting it only after the painting is completed. “It reminds me of the time I used to paint the walls of my home as a child,” he says with a smile.

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