This Artist’s Pencil Sketches of Women Are Works of Beauty
BY QUAID NAJMI
SOLAPUR, (IANS) – For this Solapur school dropout and self-trained artist, Shashikant Vaman Dhotre, his mother Ratan remains the center of his universe — and the inspiration for his unique color photographic drawings on dark paper, which have proved to be head turners and hot sellers.
Using pencils from the United Kingdom, and special black paper from France, Dhotre spends weeks and even up to two months to come up with his stunning creations, mostly women, their moods, and their rich costumes.
“I have been devoted to my mom since childhood. I witnessed her struggles, as many a time my father – a mason – would be inebriated, and she would quietly take up the responsibility of raising her four sons and two daughters without any complaints or regrets… Whatever I am today is owing to her blessings,” Dhotre, 41, said.
Dhotre — the school dropout, but a keen observer — honed his early artistry by helping his father in quarries, chiseling or carving hard stones with gentle lines to etch out different images – animals, birds, fish, flowers etc. – and developed his early passion for drawing.
Then he observed his mom, busy in her chores like cooking, cleaning, sewing, and washing, all routine struggles and ordinary activities which later ignited his memorable drawings, reflecting her travails artistically.
In 2003, he bagged a scholarship in the prestigious Sir J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai. “However, I was forced to leave the institution in just three months due to the critical financial situation at home and as the eldest son, I plunged into earning bread-and-butter for the family,” Dhotre said.
He also decided to grab the reins of the family and his future, and soon discovered that with a simple lead pencil, he could create startling pieces of art — and attract many sponsors.
His very first creation won the Governor’s Award from the Bombay Art Society and drew attention to his unique style, drawing female figures against a black background, watching marine life or flying creatures.
Having arrived on the art scene, Dhotre picked up awards, and honors and conducted exhibitions in several countries around the world, his drawings towering above the crowd of contemporary art productions.
This year, Dhotre has ventured into another unknown domain — filmmaking — and is currently directing a Marathi feature film, ‘Sajna’, which is due for release in mid-2023.
Dhotre is married to Namrata and the couple has two daughters — Surmai, 11, and Pali, 9.
On his fetish for darkness and whether it’s a sign of depression of his early days of struggle, Dhotre smiles and says: “I actually love black and it does not symbolise depression… Darkness is more beautiful, the entire Universe is black. Note, how multi-hued colors emerge best on a black/dark background.”
Dhotre’s drawings of women are first born as subjects, which he photographs and then uses them as the ‘model’ for his pencil to produce eye-catching masterpieces on black paper of 60×40 inches, at the rate of one or two, or at best around three a month.