Puneet Kaushik, Artist – a man of contrast
Puneet Kaushik sees art everywhere. If there is texture, if there is light and shadow, there is potential.
For the villagers here, much of the art of SHOPART stretches the idea of what art is, none more so than Puneet’s. His view is that if you see art, there is art; if you don’t see art, it doesn’t matter.
His village art space is effectively a construction site – a half-completed building, a common enough site throughout India. Puneet has produced several installations here, mostly from just simple adjustments and additions to the existing landscape of building materials or partly finished aspects of the second floor of the building.
Puneet’s easily categorised as neoexpressionist, but he’s also very much an experimentalist. He will flow from one oeuvre to another as inspiration nuzzles up to him. It’s like a temptation he can’t resist.
A love of traditional craft and materials has defined much of Puneet’s work: embroidery, crochet, knitting, basket weaving; and wool, beads, natural materials, indigenous dyes, papers and cloths. His art marries the traditional, indigenous and Indian with contemporary, Western ‘high art’. Together these elements tell a story of urban life, its cracks and its ordinariness, of human fragility and its transcendence. A million artists will tell you they’re influenced by van Gogh’s Starry Night; Puneet is influenced by his Potato Eaters. The former may be inspirational and the latter ordinary, but to depict the ordinary is an inspiration of a whole other kind.
The whole gamut of the social, the political, the religious, and the cultural influence his direction. He’s interested in everything, which is surely a prerequisite for art, otherwise what are you doing but re-telling an old story instead of experimenting with a new one and providing a new experience.
When you go shopping with him – which I’ve done several times – he will try on everything, and try everything on you. “Oh my god, I love this on you! Let me take a picture!” It’s an adventure in colour, hilarity, experiment, and occasionally patience. He is, as we would say, over the top; it’s a defining characteristic and he makes no apology for it. He loves colour, fabric, traditional wear.
For all his fun and flamboyance, Puneet has a serious dedication to his art that may at times even go beyond his own commercial best interests, and certainly disregards the ego trips of many successful artists. He has a path he’s following – we all do, but so many disregard that they even have one, let alone commit to it. Puneet will never be a follower, but neither should anyone follow him, except insofar as his example is to explore and commit to your own journey, and that’s an inspiration.