Science & Philosophy
Actually my father wanted me to first study a science,
physiology and body chemistry, so that I become a doctor. And then
when I did my practical part I felt I was not able to do it. I did
not like it. You have to cut up the animals and you have to do lots
of things and I could not work in that way. But my father said when
you don't want to study this, then you have to study philosophy.
And I said "No, I don't want to study anymore. I think I have
done my study. I want to finish. I am an artist."
And he says: "Artist is only half. You have to
work with both sides. You have to understand philosophy; without
philosophy no art is possible. All philosophy needs expression,
needs to be drawn, painted, sculptured so that people see it as
a visual and it is registered into their minds, slowly and gradually;
then it leaves a deep impression on their minds and they bring it
into their behaviour. They are like a child. So philosophy needs
art and art needs philosophy. Without philosophy what is art going
So I studied philosophy and I did my masters in philosophy
and as a poet I used philosophy as my expression and my thoughts
were directed towards that. I was only thinking in that way.
Also science which is a very tough, rough subject
is very beautifully explained in Indian iconography; the entire
science of physics, the science of psychology, the science of sociology,
all these things are very nicely
interwoven in Indian painting and in mythology.
A main difference in art forms between east and west
is that most of the time Indian artists are confronted with a problem:
there are no models. They work purely with their imagination, with
their memory. We don't ask anybody to stand in front of us and lean
in a particular way: so that we sit down and we make all his body
and curves seeing him, watching him all the time. So we don't do
the modelling work.
We have basic lines in our mind and we see things
in certain ways, so naturally we have work coming out from our memory
from our imagination and we don't have the exactness of a model.
And why is that? Because we don't think that the art is something
to be copied from the outside world and the nature, but we think
art is coming from within the mind. The mind has already been seeing
all these things throughout his life and then he has to present
his own image of what he is seeing, rather than asking somebody
to stand with a spear in his hand, for seven hours, for twelve hours,
two weeks and then try to be able to make that form. We see a man
somewhere, we never ask him to stop. He was doing his role. We have
seen him and that's all in our mind and whenever the time comes
that we want to portray him, we just go inside of us and see the
memory which is in our mind and then we make it.
I think there is no artistic, and no real, and no
natural, and no close, to art in copied models. Then also you can
take a picture, a photograph of somebody, as lots or artists now
are doing. They take photographs of the landscape and photographs
of everything and then they just make colour reproductions of the
photograph. So they are not doing anything which is not present
in nature. They are just copying the photograph and that is why
they have come to techniques where they distort pictures and present
pictures in different techniques calling it modern art, abstract
art, this art, that art.
But in our art it is always abstract, because there
is nothing concrete in front of us, it is only a very abstract idea
that comes to the mind and then it becomes very slowly concrete
on a piece of paper, or else a canvas. And there is no internal
expression and whatever we have registered into our mind and not
something which has been taken or copied from outside.
is supposed to have four heads, which are facing four directions
and that way energy is being spread all around. And then he has
knowledge; Veda's in his hand, he has the purification device water
in his hand, and he has a mala in his hand. And he has one hand
granting a boone. Now, if you make twenty hands all alike it looks
odd, so naturally the guy has to think of twenty different mudras,
forms of hands, whereas a western artist is never confronted with
We have always dance, because we believe that when
you have no body, when you have no weight, and if you come on this
earth, you have to balance yourself. They are not earthly, they
have no physical bodies, so they cannot balance themselves on earth
being straight. Therefore they always have their feet and hands
moving. So our gods are always dancing.
Texts extracted from the interview of Harish
Johari with Louwrien
Wijers, called "Shri Harish Johari talks about his work
as a painter", taken 27 oktober 1978, published in Bres.