Prabhakar Kolte

Prabhakar Kolte was born in 1946 and received his diploma from the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1968.
The early work of Prabhakar Kolte shows the strong influence of Paul Klee, the Swiss artist and teacher whose childlike figures belie the sophistication of his richly textured surfaces. Indeed, Klee`s influence was felt by many of Kolte`s classmates studying at the J.J. School of Art in the late 1960’s. Kolte`s debt to Klee can be seen in his technique of weathering his stronger colours, adding touches of white to age the effect of an otherwise bold hue. His early canvases are characterized by a single, dominant colour in the background, on which lighter and more complex forms, both geometric and organic, are placed.

Kolte freely acknowledges his early debt to Klee, stating in an interview that “In those days people used to call me the Indian Paul Klee. It didn`t really bother me because I was busy searching for my self.” In the early 80s, his work took a new direction as Kolte began experimenting with installation and performative art pieces. In one piece, he covered a car with newspaper; in another, he painted a volunteer black and entitled him “A Man Without Shadow”. Such off-the-canvas experiments allowed him a free space to play with abstract ideas of color and form outside the shadow of Klee`s influence.

On returning to the canvas, he sought to “immediately cover up any identifiable image, making sure that my forms would function as pure colour in space.” His most recent works show a glossier, more finished approach to his early themes in paintings. The strong ground colour remains, but this time both it and the forms overlaid onto it retain a crispness in line and colour: the “weathering” inherited from Klee has dropped out in favor of more finished – and thus more abstracted – fields of colour.

Kolte spent twenty-two years teaching at his alma mater, the .J. School of Art. He retired in 1994, and now devotes his time to painting.

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