“Painting to me is like poetry – timeless and universal”, said poet-painter, Ghulam Rasool Santosh.
Ghulam Rasool Santosh (1929-1997) hailed from a lower-middle-class family that resided in Chinkral Mohalla in Srinagar. Born to Ghulam Rasool Dar, a policeman, he had a passion and flair for art that over time, turned him into one of the most celebrated artists of Kashmir.
Ghulam Rasool Santosh left school early due to his father’s demise and took up various odd jobs to make ends meet. Even in the face of hardships, he saved up for purchasing art supplies in an effort to keep his passion alive. His perseverance and dedication earned him a scholarship in 1954 to study fine arts under notable Indian painter, Mr. N.S. Bendre. It was around this time that he married his childhood sweetheart, Santosh, and assumed her name, something which was quite unusual in the conservative Kashmiri society at the time. In the early 1960s, Santosh took refuge in Shaivism, commonly known as tantra philosophy. It was during this phase in his life that he adopted the neo-tantric style he is globally celebrated for. Most of his paintings during this period were based on the concept of cosmic creation; he created pure forms that combined female and male shapes signifying the fusion of the sensual with the spiritual. This embodied the union of Goddess Kali and Shiva which according to tantra philosophy is illustrative of human origin in indivisible oneness.
The influence of mysticism in his life extended from his meditations and practice of tantra to paintings full of spiritual energy, bridging the gap between the fabric of reality and divinity. His legacy has been immortalized on the canvases of Kashmiri art and his paintings adorn the walls of renowned galleries, where they continue to enamor and fascinate the connoisseurs of art.
Syed Azaf Shah – 11th