Whitehot Magazine

January 2008, Manish Om Prakash @ Winchester Galleries

January 2008, Manish Om Prakash @ Winchester Galleries
Recent work by Manish Om Prakash is available at Winchester Galleries in Victoria BC, Canada

The quaint, sunlit building at 2260 Oak Bay Avenue is home to the Winchester Galleries, which recently hosted artist Manish Om Prakash’s newest exhibition, ‘The Playful Muse’ which included both new works, and others hand-picked from Prakash’s decade-long career.
The Indian born artist, now a resident of British Columbia, names his fourth solo exhibition after a close friend who features in a number of Prakash’s work: “To Coco, my delightful, little playful muse who keeps me company at the easel” quotes Prakash, about his small, curly-haired dog. Much to the delight of Prakash’s enthusiastic admirers, Coco kept up appearances as a guest of honour at the exhibit’s official opening in October. While some fawned over the pooch, the main attraction adorned the walls of the gallery, treating the eyes to a visual mélange of vivid colour, emotion and bare sensuality.
Prakash’s work boasts delicate emotion, whether it be the expression on Bizet's Habanera’s face in the oil painting “Bizet's Habanera (Personification of an Aria from the opera 'Carmen')”, or a tenderness emitting from the attentively illustrated Coco, in “Coco and the Yellow Duck”. His paintings equally portray a sense of quiet, satisfied solitude; oth “The Bright Sun” and “The Warm Shade” are works depicting chiseled young men from the waist up, standing by open windows framed with the weathered wood of old Grecian-styled shutters.
In “The Bright Sun”, the young man gazes out at something below him, his eyes squinting against the brightness. There is a sensuality to the painting; the observer participates in feeling the heat on the subject’s bare skin, feels the splintered wood under the skin of his hand, and the blinding rays of the sun - yet what remains unknown to his observers are the young man’s thoughts. Prakash has a great ability to emote a conversation of emotion from the painting of a solitary figure. The majority of the artist’s work contain lone figures: children, women, middle-aged and younger, virile men, each of them lost within their own thoughts, while the audience feels they are perhaps intruding on a moment that was secretly stolen and painted onto paper, without the subjects’ knowing.
Manish Om Prakash has a particular tendency to acknowledge his audience, either by making the spectator feel as though he has stumbled onto a private moment, or by literally depicting the spectator from the perspective of the art itself. In "Contemplation (National Gallery, Berlin)”, Prakash depicts a view from the ‘fourth wall’: A handful of people sit and stand in a hallway of the National Gallery in Berlin, Germany, ‘contemplating’. One man sits with his feet apart on the gold plated bench, his head in his hands. Others sit beside him or stand, headphones on their ears, representing the lapse of time between our global modern day and the ancient art that still moves and touches those who can genuinely appreciate it all over the world.
. Prakash paints only on weekends and evenings as he maintains the position of a government policy and planning advisor for the seafood industry of British Columbia, but has a solid fan base rooted in Canada, in particular Victoria, where his exhibition career has been particularly affluent. For an artist who is unable to dedicate the entirety of his days to his passion to paint, Prakash’s devotion to his art is clearly identifiable. Despite being unable to claim any formal art education, Manish Om Prakash has a hand that is able to convey sensitive detail and affection into the faces and postures of his subjects. His love for creating art will surely guarantee him a prolific career within Canada’s contemporary art scene, and the life of his beloved pet Coco will surely endure thanks to Prakash’s gift for loving rendering.

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Liz Gow

Liz Gow is a writer in Victoria, BC

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