| Rajeev and Yuriko Lochan at the gallery where their exhibition is being held. Picture Aranya Sen
The pursuit of art brought the artist couple Rajeev Lochan and Yuriko Lochan together in Japan about 15 years ago. They are holding a joint show at Galerie 88 but their practice could not have been more different.
After all these years in Delhi, Yuriko has made herself totally at home here. She speaks both English and Hindi fluently, and she looks so comfortable in the salwar kameez, she could have worn such ensembles all her life. The bizarre reality of India could not have been brought home more brutally to her than at the current show. Dacoits made off with a crate of her paintings while they were being transported to Calcutta, believing it contained watches.
Although she was introduced to Indian miniatures only after she met Rajeev in Japan, now her practice is deeply informed by a sound understanding of Indian philosophy and aesthetics, and she reinvents that language to meet her own needs.
Rajeev, on the other hand, is not a painter in the traditional way. He takes photographs, which he paints with oil and acrylic, scratches, sprays with paint and uses chemicals to project an image of his inner self, the “personal phantasm” as he calls it, which has only a tenuous link with the physical reality of the objects or bodies he has photographed. Although he declines to talk about it, Rajeev heads the National Gallery of Modern Art.
Rajeev was brought up in an ambience of art. He says he did not have a “normal childhood”. He did his first nude study at five and had “imbibed everything to do with art”. Unsure of his inclinations, he studied science in school and took up art only before it was too late. He still seems to be under the spell of his “mentor” K.G. Subramanyan at MS University in Baroda, who helped him “internalise introspection”. He talks about his series which deals with illusion, reality, vision and perception, to which belongs his current show.
In spite of his academic training, photography fascinated him from childhood. He uses it as a tool to help him “jot down moments” which he “brews” to push them closer to his vision. His works involve performance art as well. He collaborates with a student, looking for “alternatives within an interactive space”.
Here a young man in briefs is photographed at an angle with junk. Never looking straight into the camera, he is caught in a series of contemplative poses, as if in interaction with the detritus. These large silver gelatine prints are tinted with yellow, red and blue, some details deleted and others highlighted at will, “interacting with an image to bring it to life”.
In Japan, Yuriko was trained in oils and she was founder-member of a multi-disciplinary performing group. After she came to India in 1987, she used the form of panel and screen painting prevalent in Japan, though she splintered her images. Her style was heavily influenced by Indian miniature.
She creates geometric forms or abstract areas of colour but with detailed brushwork that turn them into turbulent waves, foliage, or the canopy of night sky spangled with stars. Why does she avoid contemporary life' Yuriko says she will when she is sure she can handle it.