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Jignesh Panchal draws a unique vernacular

Jignesh dropped out of school while studying for his diploma in painting. Looking at his art today, it is hard to believe that trajectory in his life as the artist has ensured that his education continued and his art matured. His persistence in observing his surroundings and using the treasures that lay bare within the Indian craft-chest has textured his art. One also finds in his layered works an unravelling, a continuing quest to find his voice. His aesthetic seems to essentially curate a web of memories akin to mapping the course of time. Like an obscure Indian summer palace, his art is lush with charming oddities, speckled with reminiscences of the world.

Jignesh Panchal

The realm of many of his works is that of miniature paintings. Figures appear as if dusted onto the surface like ancient murals, the motifs pattern his composition, and the colours both burnished Aurelian and other vibrant Indian hues all create an illusion of a crumbling elysian field.

“I imagine craft and design through the lens of art, and art through the lens of craft and design. The two constitute and interpret territory we could reside in.”

His canvas – cut up, carved, indented, manipulated is almost being sculpted upon. The way his art burrows into the wall offers this sense of looking inwards, that becomes personal to the viewer as much as it is to the artist. Slowly inch by inch, trespassing through his layers, exploring the melange of arrangements is a fascinating experience. His art responds to this longing of memories and places value on that decay, one that is fragmented yet cohesive.


Our interview with the artist…


Growing Up…

​My childhood days were very different. I lost my father when I was 10 years old. I started my first job when I was in the 6th standard and worked as a helper in a garment factory as I completed my primary schooling. My first brush with art happened when I had fallen very sick due to typhoid, and a relative came to see me. He gifted me a red ball pen, and I started making copies of the wall hanging (photos of goddess and gods) around my bed. 


Speaking about the vernacular through art…

I grew in the old part (walled city) of Ahmedabad in a tiny place that belonged to my maternal uncle. Living in pol (a housing cluster which comprises many families of a particular group, linked by caste, profession, or religion), its architecture gave me an understanding of what is vernacular. Its unique house arrangments, back to back houses and even names of the ​pol. For, e.g., D​hana Suthar ni pol is related to the people who might live there. Like Dhana Suthar might have been a great carpenter and people might have named the pol after him. All these experiences helped me understand what vernacular is. Then I moved out of the old town and travelled to different places. 

Jignesh Panchal

Seeing the larger world through artists and their practices…

My earlier works were influenced by my surrounding life and its urban motifs and mainly with acrylic on canvas. In 2016 my friend Nobushige Kono from Japan came to Ahmedabad to do a collaborative art project. Working together with Nobu widened my horizon. He encouraged me to do something different. And after those experiences, I started working with juxtaposing and layering. 


A throbbing, responsive way of art

Whatever we do is a response to something. And I don’t have a clear image of “​Something”. I​ am trying to find that “​Something”. In the chaotic and saturated world (that we inhabit), putting these things, these visuals together gives me perspective. 

Texture. Layer. Repeat…

I started collecting tissue papers (printed) as a souvenir to bring back home during my 1st trip to Germany in 2012 because it was very affordable and easy to carry. Later on, it became a hobby for me to collect different types of papers, posters, prints, tissue paper wherever I travel. 3 years ago, I realised that I have hundreds of Tissue papers, and each of them represents different cultural values. So I started working with them as motifs, juxtaposing oriental elements on it. And I realised that when themes from different parts (of the world) come to one surface they complimented each other so well and for me that thought of “different cultures” became invisible. Now I enjoy recreating decorative, abstract-geometrical forms and patterns. Also, it represents a kaleidoscope of reality and fiction, history and present. 

Using printed material and crafting them together became meditative, and the body of work went into a mode of repetition.

Jignesh Panchal

Cherishing each show…

“The solo show of my first multi-layered works in Germany Jignesh Panchal – New Works”​ was the beginning point where I started multi-layered works. I enjoyed that so much. 

I also enjoyed working on “Floating space” ​a suit of 18 works and a series of small works (A6 size) titled​ Summer of 2019​. The current global crisis brings back good memories of the time I spent with my friends while travelling through Italy-France-Germany-Switzerland. The materials I bought in their presence at that time bought me joy, and today I feel so much pain for all of them. ​Summer of 2019​ is my prayer for those who are suffering currently. 

All image courtesy: Jignesh Panchal

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