Eminent pioneering and experimental artist Yogesh Rawal who brought collages, sculptures, prints and paintings to life by his clever use of paper collage, cellulose, synthetic yarn passed away on April 16, 2021, in New Delhi.
Yogesh’s paper collage creation of magnificent gates of Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha swings considerably in relation to the historical perspective of the building.
In his family, paper perhaps had greater importance than in many other households and studios of artists. Born in Wankaner Saurashtra in 1954, Yogesh’s journey with life began early from Mumbai where his parents settled in Shivaji Park.
He grew up in a room and during a period when paper ruled one’s existence. Everything ruled around the paper, from the books, magazines, ration cards and all basic government and non-government work revolved around papers. As were the school books and copies, and even entering primary school, notebooks were made of paper and they were covered again in brown paper for paper name labels to be glued on to them.
I don’t think paper ever disappeared from Yogesh who began learning money by binding books when he was just ten years old. Lost his father when was 11, he joined Sir J J School of Arts in 1974 and left home to live with friends the next year.
At first, simply by chance, Yogesh came across tissue paper in August 1974 while buying colours. He moved to deal with the textures and attempted to make collages.
“My work was clearly far superior, more precious to me and I won the award”, Yogesh has told me when we had travelled together with our families to spend some days in Kukru in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district.
At some point, he did several experiments with various quality tissue papers, with different varnishes and coatings to protect collages from weather impact. A great divine of black and white colour, Yogesh during his experimental work developed a new technique ‘Colo Print’. Suddenly, he felt a strong desire to make life-size sculptures, thought of other alternatives in his art creations, tried his hands in photography and wanted to make short films. Failing to materialise it, Yogesh tried organising young artists for creating common facilities. He founded ‘The Untitled’ a group of young artists in 1978 and held the first group show. Simultaneously, he started lending a library of original works, held a few groups shows in the suburbs of Bombay [now Mumbai] with intentions to take art and it’s medium to society. His vision couldn’t succeed because of several reasons.
A self-inspired person that probably came to him from his religious beliefs and surrounding, his work is intended to contain a larger moral meaning was appointed fellow at Sir J J School of Arts. But he refused not to teach and left for Paris in 1979.
Here he studied etching under Prop. William Hayter and later held a show at Ecole De Beaux-Arts- Paris. He returned in 1980 and began working as a freelancer.
In 1995 he shifted his studio to Bhopal, when I met him at the premises of Vidhan Sabha, through my Bhopal-born renowned artist friend. And when I saw his work, I found a key feature of his creations was the glowing flow of colour waves perfectly blending with other colours. In later years, whenever I had a chance to meet him or found his work in galleries and architectural landscapes, I saw the reflection of true Yogesh in his creations.
Yogesh believed in God, loved his family and friends. He wanted people to be avowed by his work. And he was very human in his approach.