From paintbrush to touch screen: Digital art with Manoj Pal

© Manoj Pal

The Teenager Today’s cover designer and layout artist for the last four decades, Manoj Pal is a painter who regularly displays his works in the art galleries of various cities in the country.

Manoj engaged in an intense discussion with noted artist Aditya Basak
Manoj engaged in an intense discussion with noted artist Aditya Basak (right)

Manoj’s work is an ever-changing landscape of shifting talent and new horizons. His earlier work has always endeared to shaping form and colour onto the canvas but he never aims to please anyone but his own inner thought processes. As a result he is often seen experimenting with new feelings. Where once we witnessed harsh undertones and broken chaos, we may find the next exhibition focused on the inner blueprints of mechanical life.

After many years of working with oil and acrylics on canvas, he wades into new territory and translates his brushstrokes into the digital medium in interesting ways, replicating each of his strokes manually on a pressure-sensitive tablet surface.

Ten years ago, though already established globally as a modern medium, digital art was yet to be taken seriously in India. However, it had a great many takers to its beauty and remains a field where new passions bloom on a very regular basis.

Manoj’s sculptures at an exhibiton.

Manoj’s digital painting started with an assignment he was commissioned for by Better Yourself Books, Mumbai, to illustrate a version of the New Testament (Bible). He took the opportunity as a challenge and lifted the digital style to a mature form and started it as a new endeavour to bring his paintbrush with him to the touch screen. Soon India Today published noted classical singer Bhimsen Joshi’s portrait, digitally done by Manoj, on the magazine’s 70th anniversary issue. Traditionally orthodox, the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, displayed two of Manoj’s digital works at their annual exhibition.

One thing of note to an observer of Manoj’s latest exhibition: his many years of patient work on the canvas and study of the way the brushstroke creates emotions has quietly but confidently found its way into all of his new digital paintings. The decades of experience seem to be right at home among printed and framed pieces. Newcomers and enthusiasts alike speak out and marvel at the thought: a brushstroke on an iPad screen? How does a digital painting look like it was handled on canvas when in reality it was made on Wacom’s digital tablet?

Eminent artist Ganesh Haloi (second from right) evaluating Manoj’s painting at an exhibition.
Eminent artist Ganesh Haloi (second from right) evaluating Manoj’s painting at an exhibition.

One of the biggest names on the Indian art scene, eminent artist Ganesh Haloi said, “These days I come across a lot of digital work, to me they look mechanical; just explain, why your paintings don’t appear like them.” And in Manoj’s mind, it was the greatest compliment he had ever received!

His latest exhibition, a solo, which took place at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, between 31 January and 6 February, is but a continuation of his work to expand his horizons. Doubtless, he’ll be trudging through new fields soon and find new avenues to which he will bring his aged and experienced touch, be it physical or digital.

You can learn more about Manoj Pal at manojpal.co.in