What made you give up your successful family business to take up painting?
I was always interested in painting. I started painting in 1979 and became a full-time painter, but I haven’t been to an art school. I liked painting that’s all. I felt that I would be nowhere if I continued with the family business. So I took the risk. Isold the business in 1979, and in 1980, I had three shows—in Baroda, Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Ahmedabad.
How did Bali inspire your work?
Creativity doesn’t strike you immediately when you’re moving around or seeing Bali. But after you reach home, you recall your experiences. That anubhooti (inner feeling) comes up. Bali was the kind of experience where you can still see your Vedic culture but you know that it’s being obliterated. Here (India), it is all gone, but there it was somehow preserved in a kind of a time capsule. That’s what I try and show in my painting.
Why do you mainly work with mythological themes?
This is used as a metaphor, to express certain present situations… Using such elements brings in so many colours, so much movement (and) compositionaladvantage.
There’s a lot of movement and dynamism in your work. Where does that come from?
I would call it rhythm. In the raga or in music, it’s the rhythm that really calls your attention. So, I start with a certain theme, but then, it’s the rhythm that guides me. I change my strategy till I come to a point where I surprise myself. The whole process has to be enjoyable. If I enjoy looking at the work, only then will the viewer also enjoy it. If I’m just creating high art, which, according to me, is very boring, then the viewer will also get bored.
What kind of a reaction do you expect or seek from those who view your art?
I feel I am an entertainer. I don’t want people to become bored by looking at my painting. Even while coming up with the titles, I always try and guide and misguide the viewers. The titles are mainly to amuse the viewers.
Many leave their work untitled.
If you read the title, you will try and find out what it is. You will stand there and think. The only time I leave a painting untitled is when I can’t think of anything witty, I don’t want anything boring. (laughs)
Recent works by Amit Ambalal will be on display at Gallery Espace, New Delhi, till 12 August
Prices of the paintings range from Rs6 lakh to Rs16 lakh