Pratap Morey - Contemporary Artist visualising urban world
25th April 1981
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Painting, Escalations and Visual Art
There are very few artists who contemplate the world around them in their art. They capture the various nuances of life having crisp realty and portray it in the contemporary form. One such artist is Pratap Morey, from Mumbai, whose work revolves around connecting the body & urban space. He showcases the prosaic entities around him in the most ingenious way. He considers himself lucky to have been chosen for The Rashtrapati Bhavan’s ‘In-Residence Programme’ and several other residencies for institutions nationally and internationally. He has participated in various curated group shows and art fairs. This young artist work is mostly urban and uses lot of urban materials. The artist combines the elements of digital photography with his drawings. His work speaks more about space, redevelopment & urbanization, pictorial documentation of structures, mirrored images and moving pictures creating illusions. He seeks inspiration from the city, its colonial nature and the resident’s spatial war.
Team imd1 had a chat with him a few days ago, read on to know her further!
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
Since childhood I thought of becoming an artist and architectural concepts inspired me. I was clear of my career vision. After completing my Junior college, I did graduation in Painting from Vikasini College of Visual Arts, Vasai. Initially I did a lot of canvas painting and landscapes in college. To begin my career, I hired my own studio and continued doing work there. Though I sold many of my pieces, it didn’t work out the way I expected. So I had to wind off my studio. I was disheartened with the complexities of space but took this situation as a challenge. I started experimenting with digital camera at home. Capturing small things became a narrative aspect of my work and I urged for more creativity. Designing on computer was not satisfactory as I am an artist and wanted to draw with my hands. My work was beyond explanation as I was exploring something new with all constraints around. Since we always had been staying in rented houses, I have grown in different parts of Mumbai city. My work reflected my love for the town and my observations in transit. I started correlating urban space with my work. The rudiments in the surroundings I have lived in, was exhibited in my work.
Quote for Life
“Have faith in your work & Believe in yourself”
Late Vasudeo Gaitonde, Late M. F. Hussain, Vincent van Gogh, Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra
Mumbai city has inspired me to work
Food I Love
Home cooked food
Had I not been Artist then…
I always wanted to be an Artist from my school days
Like Vacations at
The eroding Majuli Island on Brahmaputra
Favorite Pass time
I have grown watching lot of movies, Indian & western but the Parallel cinema movement of the 80s is what I like the most
Favorite Actor / Actress
New bees like Rajkummar Rao, Vicky Kaushal, Swara Bhaskar, Radhika Apte are to watch out for
What has been your success mantra?
Have confidence in yourself and trust the work you do.
What were the hardships & hurdles you encountered and how did you overcome them?
The major hurdle was of space which many Mumbai residents face. With urbanization the living space has become costly and compact. My work required me to acquire bigger space than what I had. But that too was a learning experience as it made me start a different journey where I belong today. Moving to different places in the city made my thought process more comprehensive. In the formative stages, certain people around me too made fun of my work and gave discouraging vibes. But I had strong faith in myself and the work I was doing which helped me sustain the pressure.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
I never lost hope. I faced the challenges as they came. I retained conviction and the progress followed slowly. I always trusted my instincts. Right from selling the studio to working from a small rented house, life has been testing but I never lost my serenity. All this gave me a roadway to my dream and eventually success.
Do you think Painting and its learning’s can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Art is present in various forms like Music, Cinema, Dance & Painting. It has an immense capacity to touch someone’s life and give a meaningful direction to your thoughts.
Who has been your influencer in your journey so far?
The city has been my biggest influence. I am intrigued by the journey of each & every citizen.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
Each time my work brings a smile on my face and makes me happy, I feel ‘’I am the 1’’. For an artist the outcome of the work has to be appealing to self & others. I like it when my team appreciates the art piece.
Is your success backed by a formal training?
Yes, I did my BFA in drawing & painting from Vikasini Visual Art College, Vasai in 2006 and then PGD in Indian Aesthetics from University of Mumbai, in 2010. I am also recipient of various scholarships.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Painting?
It is always beneficial to be trained & informed. Understanding the crux of the subject & having basic knowledge of the rules is important. I am educated and well versed with the theory of my work. I am aware of the structure and what all additions can be made. Same information can be passed on to aspiring artists.
Are there any prerequisites like age, fitness or a mindset required to pursue Painting?
There is no prerequisite as such. One has to trust their talent and be ready to stay put in the field of art. Love art and practice it. Even though you don’t enroll yourself in hobby classes, visiting museums is a must to get as much knowledge & information on the various aspects of art.
You were part of the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s ‘’In-Residence Programme’ in 2014, can you add more light to it and tell us about your experience?
The ‘In-Residence programme’ at Rashtrapati Bhavan was launched by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, with a view to encourage young emerging talent of India by facilitating their stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Since Artist & Writers are brand ambassadors of India they have to be nurtured to enhance their creative thinking capabilities. The applications from some of the best artists & writers from India were invited along with the submission of their innovative thoughts & ideas. I was shortlisted and stayed there for good 3 weeks. Residency is kind of a laboratory of thoughts. Apart from writers & artist there were scientists and IAS officers called for exchange of ideas, brainstorming sessions, exhibition of artwork and interaction. I was fortunate to meet APJ Abdul Kalam. Since my work is related to architecture, I got an opportunity to photograph Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Rashtrapati Bhavan building is itself a subject of study as it showcases historical art and has always been a matter of curiosity to public. It is open to the common man once in a year. These kinds of more initiatives are needed to encourage contemporary art.
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal coaching?
It’s equally difficult to get a good shishya for a Guru. One has to be a dedicated shishya to find an ideal guru. And a guru also should be inspiring and ready to serve knowledge to his students.
What according to you, can be a scope for improvement in training for Painting in India?
Art should be given primary importance in our education system. For an artists to learn and do research on your work it is important to have contemporary art museums. One has to go overseas for gathering information and study the artwork displayed in museums there. Our history & culture are reflected in these galleries. We have only 2 museums in Mumbai which have traditional art. Steps should be made to enhance public galleries
What is the basic process of your work?
My work is very urban. I use a lot of urban materials. There is no step by step procedure that I follow. Many a times I might do the sketch or composition first & add my thoughts to it or vice-versa. I have no fixed working hours and any assigned method. I would go middle of the night to capture the on-going building of metro. The before & after image of the construction site showed a different aspect of urbanization & development. When I was travelling in Delhi metro there was an announcement of ‘mind the gap’, so I related that with the differences which we have in our society in terms of living standards. The daily observations were blended & absorbed in my work and the outcome was more effective. I even travel outside city to gather thoughts
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Painting in remote parts of India?
We need to have more museums, as this is one place where the artist gets information & stimulation. We don’t have many museums here. Whereas, abroad there are numerous and funded by municipal corporations. Separate funds are allotted to establish & maintain museums. Same can be implemented here.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
When you are pursuing art, focus must be on learning rather than excelling. It might take some time to progress but learning has to be consistent. Do your work with pure honesty. Believe in yourself and trust your work.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
I wished to do my masters from Royal College of Art, London.
Any other thoughts you want to share?
An artist cannot remain idle. It’s better to try new things, learn from the mistakes. I would like to go back to basic conventional drawing and try something new rather than getting stagnant.