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Many years ago, equipped with a Masters in Applied Art, Prabhinder Lall launched his private practice as a Graphic Designer. It was not long before he realised that his creativity inherited from his brilliant architect father, late RS Lall, was pining for a fuller expression through an unrestricted outlet that would let his imagination fly sky high. Obviously, the Applied Art commissions which he had got were restrained by the client’s brief requiring an apt art identity of their choice. These professional hazards would not let him have his way with his artistic creations. It was this inner compulsion that goaded him to take recourse to Painting. In this field, the artwork is its own client while the artist rejoices in the random ebullience of creative freedom, hopping from flower to flower in the illimitable garden of life not unlike what a butterfly does. This, indeed, was what his soul was pining for—and he adopted it with thirsty avidity and full throttle passion which, far from diminishing, has incredibly increased through the years.

Interestingly, the rare combination of family architectural ambience and the masterly skills of applied art have come handy to him through the years during which Lall has been painting scores of canvases in gay abandon. Unlike most artists in India, he has clearly established his easy-to-recognise signature by the repeated use of certain elements and icons that are not there in other artists’ works. They are symbols of doors, windows, ventilators, jaalis, screens, cantilevers, façades, etc. as you encounter in cities. Instinctively, he places them strategically on the canvas which is characterised by the openness of Chandigarh’s architectural ambience. It is the product of one of the three planning postulates on which Le Corbusier had designed the City Beautiful: Sun, Space, and Verdure. The mood thus generated in Lall’s paintings is one of urbanism, urbanity, and civilised city lifestyle expressing civic order. In his latest painting on “Social Distancing”, even courtyard that has been a central feature of Building Design in India for centuries surfaces to symbolise ‘containment’ or ‘self-quarantine’ as a sensible precaution against coronavirus. Each painting in Lall’s repertoire suggests architectural perspective and building forms though these are not consciously devised as such.

Way back in the 1970s, when I had got him admitted to the Government College of Art, I had a hunch that Prabhinder Lall would become an artist of far-reaching consequence. Though it was dead against his father’s desire to make him an architect, the mythic potency of my hunch convinced him—and the rest, as they say—is history. However, in his case, the history is in a class apart. My prophecy has turned out to be true and Prabhinder Lall is well on his way to becoming an international celebrity with his highly personalised artistic creations. This glorious prospect draws its power from an aspect of his personality which people fail to notice as contributing to his awesome growth as an artist. It is the quiet nobility of his spirit steeped in humility that is an inexhaustible source of his creativity. It supports his pursuit by an inner compulsion, sustains it by an inner conviction, and fulfils it by an inner satisfaction. Be that as it may, I am pining to see him seated on the exalted pedestal of my dreams.



Founder-Teacher & Former Principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture Former Art Critic, The Tribune, Chandigarh

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