"Art emerges only when you go deep down into the source of your being. With a little conscious effort, the subconscious world is released on the canvas and you are wonder struck."
Kashmiri Khosa was born in 1940 in the city of Lahore, now known as the capital of Pakistan, after the partition of India. His father Som Nath Khosa was a famous artist known for depicting the life of Mahatma Gandhi in a series of paintings. His father, a realist painter, belonged to Kashmir and became interested in art due to several British artists who regularly visited the region in those days. Since childhood, Kashmiri was interested in art, but in those days there wasn't much of a sales market, therefore, Khosa had to depend on photography and advertising for a living. The burning desire to paint and live off of his art was a priority from the very beginning, and apart from working in advertising, he strove to become a recognized painter. He exhibited his work all over the country until he became professionally established at the age of forty. He has received many awards including the National Award in his country and was able to leave behind the world of advertising in 1962.
Kashmiri has participated in many national and international shows, in 1974 he received the President of India's Silver Plaque, and in 1981 the National Award. His paintings have been auctioned off by Osian’s and Astaguru's auction houses plenty of times, and several other charity organizations like Concern India and Help Age India. Tracing the timeline of his artistic growth, one can find his paintings in significant collections at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lalit Kala Academy, Sahitya Kala Parishad of Delhi, College of Art, International Airport Authority of India and numerous private collections in India, America, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe.
"By nature, we are solitary beings. Born alone, alone we undergo unique experiences, and finally, die alone. Only in deep solitude when the mind stills, is a state of fullness obtained. When solitude decreases, the mind tends to become extroverted. In solitude, we experience deeper joys and purposes within and go beyond the limitations of the quotidian. The present phase of these paintings, then, are inspired by the study of ancient Sanskrit texts, so as to grasp the roots of Being."
His artistic disposition has impelled him to collaborate with his contemporaries in poetry, literature and theatre. Such consideration brought him the Department of Culture’s Senior Fellowship from (1979-82) for “integrating the visual language of art and content and coordinating it as a whole”. His creations have been extensively published throughout the country including paintings reproduced by the International Design Journal (No.42 ) in Seoul, Korea. He participated in a distinguished and extensive interview published by “ Temenos 13”, an international review journal devoted to the arts of imagination and edited by Kathleen Raine, a poet of the natural world, and published from London. Kashmiri attended many art camps at national and international levels, and was also represented at the sixth Babylon International Festival of Art in Iraq 1994. A slide presentation of the three decades of his paintings was held at an international seminar of The Indira Gandhi National Center of the Arts, which arranged a collaboration with the Millennium Trust of Britain in 2004. He represented India and participated as an artist in an international show of “Stichting White Cube Global Village” in Netherlands, Denmark and Germany in 2014, and participated in Scope Miami Art (voice of an artist) 2015. Over the last forty years or so, many of the most important art critics of the country have at one time or another published about Kashmiri Khosa.
Khosa's creations contain a sort of magical and celestial semblance. While admiring his work, we can become enveloped in ourselves , encompassed in emotions and the beauty as well as turmoil they may consist of. His productions inspire a refreshing moment to connect with the essence of our beings. With elegant and attentive strokes, Kashmiri can swiftly whip us away to an intricate realm found only within ourselves.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. To me, success in art is not necessarily in making money, but in the actual breakthrough of visual language through paintings. The most memorable shows of my lifetime are the exhibitions sponsored by prestigious galleries of India Today in 1995 and 2000.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. My work could be divided into four decades. The first decade belonged to a genre where the subject of the paintings was important. The colours and forms were only instrumental here, and the conviction used to be that one of the main functions of art was to help free mankind from the tyranny of transient emotions and the bondage of basic desires. In this phase, my monumental images used to be as if sculpted in stone.
The second decade went on to reflect the storms of emotions and passions. My paintings used to hover between figuration, abstraction and representation. The gentle ambiguities of each blurring into each other mutually enhancing their sense of mystery or mysterious yearnings.
The third and fourth decade belong to someone who looks outwards, even when I learned to turn my gaze inwards and become actively aware of a secret life that is actually the larger life buried within. This ignited the desire to study ancient Indian texts so as to understand and grasp the very roots of our being.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. Over the years, I have been painting and trying to express non-fleeting beauty and the momentous tidings of our minds, along with the very roots of our beings in this modern material world. I came to the conclusion that the usual stances of modern painters like me has no truck with the art community or responsibility towards the human tradition. Therefore it took me time to recognize my obligation beyond the so called claimed freedom of an artist.
I have been trying to understand and grasp the very thoughts and wisdom of ancient Indian culture in order to transform them into a modern visual language of art. I have been working in silence and solitude in a small studio under the Dhauldhar Peak of the Himalayas in Dharamsala, India, as perhaps the only Indian artist in our country doing this kind of metaphysical work.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I did my first painting when I was three years old since my father was also a painter. It was a Sunrise.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. Being the son of a painter helped a great deal in me becoming extremely interested in art from the very beginnings of my life.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. The biggest advice which has been given to me is by Indian ancient wisdom "Live and Let Live."
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. My best and only advice to the next generation is that whatever work they do in life, they must do with great love, affection and sincerity. By doing so, they are bound to gain success.