Kanchan Chander’s precious memory of his teacher South: I was in her first group of printmaking students at the Delhi College of Art, and I fondly remember how she taught and worked on her zinc plate simultaneously. We often visited her studio, where she answered our questions while observing her work. She encouraged each of us to experiment. I still remember one instance when she brought a collagraph plate to class. I didn’t like the medium, so I walked out and didn’t attend her class for almost a week, thinking I’d come back when another subject was introduced. But then she found me in the canteen, where I was eating pakoras bread, and handed me a printmaking plaque, telling me I needed to take some lessons. She loved me and I loved her. I owe him my interest in the medium.
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Sud de Chander’s Favorite Work
Anupam Sud has always been very sensitive to the issues that surround it and this work puts two women in conversation who are blossoming. I think I saw her working on it as a student. Rather sensual engraving, what makes it exemplary is the way it used the contrast between dark and light, the subtle background, the perfection of the figures, their posture and the moment captured.
In Conversation with South
Chander: You’re one of India’s best printmakers, but you’re just as technically strong in painting, where you explore strong subjects. Could you talk about the transition?
South : An artist remains an artist. There is a constant desire to create and my ability to draw was strong – drawing is necessary for painting, printmaking, sculpture and all forms of art. I did my painting degree but as I was attracted by black and white, there was a gradual shift from painting to engraving. The engraving is like quicksand, we are sucked into it. I survived for a while, but due to health issues burning became a challenge. So I went back to color, took some brushes and started painting again. As an artist, you aspire to create and paint was easier. Now I am interested in both mediums.
How do you manage to make prints at this age without help? It is very laborious. Any advice you would give to young engravers to survive?
Burning requires a huge installation and is a very tedious way. It breaks your bones sometimes! For any artist, discipline is first, reverence is second. Once you start bringing commerce into it, you bring corruption into it. Evaluate your work on quality rather than what sells. It’s hard to survive, but if you compromise, you never get anywhere.
Do you miss your students?
Sometimes I have been challenged by my students and loved by them too. On other occasions, my students feared me because I was a bit strict – I am a firm believer in discipline. In music, there is riyaz and it is the same in art. You have to love their profession and I always pass that on to my students. My studio was like a temple where my students came to worship the medium.