Kambli's artwork can rightly be called
narrative. The narratives contain elements of traditional
imagery from both religious sources and Art sources
about religion, but it also presents themes and ideas
that are taken from his immediate environment. In his
prints, one can see his family, his home, the land of
his ancestors and the Indian Gods, along with the encroaching
builders and `developers' who are transforming the sacred
land into a global shopping center. He examines the
contemporary tension between nature and culture, and
the constant contradictions of perception an reality.The
Multiple-headed Trimurti appears often in his work,
usually two faces in profile, one oriented towards the
left and the other towards the right. There is also
another face on the frontal plane flattened so that
the head is read more as a shape than as a volume. On
the frontal-facing head, there is a vertical area which
might be read as a nose, hair, stitches, tikka marks,
or perhaps just a line separating each side from the
other. There is the tikka marks, or perhaps just a line
separating each side from the other. There is the concept
of unity in diversity here and a reference to Soaham,
but it is also a reference to concept of unity in diversity
here and a reference to Soaham, but it is also a reference
to "being of two minds on an issue"
or of having a past as well as a future. A person steeped
in the Western tradition might see the Greek God Janus
in these images or perhaps, the art of Pablo Picasso.
But, it is an Indian cultural reference also and Kambli
is well aware of both sets of meanings and references.
He often speaks of the individual who is reflected in
the universal and the universal embodied in the individual.
Above all, Kambli has a very sophisticated sense of
tone and line and the use of both for compositional
purposes. His processes of working the copper plate
include etching, engraving, drypoint, mezzotint and
aquatint. He uses these processes to develop printed
surfaces of beautiful richness and depth. The printed
lines stand up from the surface in slight relief while
the lightest gray tones caress the paper with the most
delicate of ink deposits. His light grays are the kiss
of a battery landing on a spring flower while his deeply
etched lines are forceful cuts and wounds in the surface
of the copper.
His Work is technically proficient and he employs the
full range of techniques available to the printmaker.
But, he is not merely a technician. Kambli employs techniques
to enrich his images like the story teller who uses
complex gestures and facial expressions to add life
to his characters. Through technique, Kambli deepens
his story by hiding some things in shadows and exposing
others to the full light of day. He "builds"
a wall of bricks and "constructs" a screen
of doors that separate one set of actors from another.
Through composition and technique, he divides and separates
his picture plane into a metaphor of the narrative he
Printmaking in Europe and the United States has long
been an art of political and social content as well
as personal content. This is also true in Indian printmaking
during this past century. Early 20th Century artists
in India who worked with printmaking such as Benode
Bihari Mukherjee, Haren Das, Nandalal Bose, and Mukul
Dey all created images of what they found around them
in their own culture. The images were often "pictorial
and documentary, and, seemingly, contained little overt
political content. Other artists who followed them in
the 1940's, such as Chitta Prasad and early Somnath
Hore, tried to use printmaking not only to depict what
they saw around themselves, but also to call people
to action. They wanted an art of social utility, one
that would address inequity and cause the downtrodden
to take action their fate. Hanuman Kambli continues
in these traditions.
Hanuman Kambli avoids the polemic and the overtly political,
but he does feel the need to take a position and state
an opinion. In Kambli's prints, human expression and unfettered
nature take precedence over commercial development. Personal
feeling and family take precedence over political action.
The handmade takes precedence over that made by machine.
Quiet takes precedence over noise. Love takes precedence