I have said this often and say it yet again. An uncomplicated hug makes even the hardest day more bearable…
I have known Rakesh Shukla for many years now. Over the last few years I have seen him change and get more and more immersed in what is his passion- dogs. He is the founder of The Voice of Stray Dogs (VoSD). The Poonchh Collection was inspired by him and as such my foray into painting dogs was also because of spending time with his dogs. I have painted many a dog for VoSD. And have painted portraits of him before as well. You can see them here and here. So it seemed a natural progression to paint the two together.
But I did not want to paint a ‘sterile’ picture that just showed him or the dogs as they ‘look’. I want to try and capture a feeling. An essence that is him and his relationship to the dogs. My work is usually very detail oriented. This series of narrative portraits is an effort to break away from surface detail and to also use the support itself to convey some meaning.
The last two years have been tough on my friend. And as a bystander, it has been difficult to watch. But they say adversity truly shows you the mark of a man. And I see him stand tall in spite of it all. I will not go into details of what, how, when and where. That is not for me to share. But I find no matter how much people pull him down, try and malign his reputation, work at eroding his hard work, but they can’t touch the core of the man. His love for the dogs and their boundless love for him.
“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
― Woodrow Wilson
“You can usually tell that a man is good if he has a dog who loves him.”
― W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Journey
Dogs are a very good judge of character they say. They sense the essence of a person. And it says a lot about Rakesh that he has nearly 500 of them. They love him unconditionally.
This painting is the first in a series of narrative portraiture that I have been working on the past few months. It is done with Acrylics on plywood. And is approx. 10×30 inches. The plywood is raw and unfinished. Much like the situation I think he finds himself in. I layered it with torn paper and then started work on it with charcoal. On a backdrop of torn/shredded/scattered, I wanted to paint a picture that is whole and complete in itself. No matter the jagged edges. The endeavour is not to be photo realistic but to capture more.
Dust. Dirt. Grime. Sweat. Hard work. …and Love.