Artist Sanjay Gangaram Shinde creates collage paintings using discarded onion and garlic peels

Tiyashi Datta
Balgandharva Art Gallery, Sanjay Gangaram Shinde, Mahatma Phule Mandai lane, collage paintings, Nature’s Life, Nandi, King of Farmer, indian express news

Artist Sanjay Gangaram Shinde's painting.

On some evenings, amid the commotion of traders and buyers in the congested lanes of Mahatma Phule Mandai in Pune, a man in his fifties can be seen loitering around the onion stalls. He is not a buyer hoping to buy a kilo or two of the vegetable whose high prices have broken all recent records. Nor is he a trader, farmer or a botanist interesting in studying the onion variety being sold.

That man is Sanjay Gangaram Shinde, an artist. He is there to collect some colours for his artworks. Shinde creates collage paintings using discarded onion and garlic peels. This is an art form that he has been practising for last 20 years. Shinde is holding his seventh exhibition at Balgandharva Art Gallery, which is on display today. Titled “Nature’s Life”, it will showcase paintings named Nandi and King of Farmer.

Balgandharva Art Gallery, Sanjay Gangaram Shinde, Mahatma Phule Mandai lane, collage paintings, Nature’s Life, Nandi, King of Farmer, indian express news

Sanjay Gangaram Shinde.

With a master’s degree in arts from Pune-based Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya, Shinde teaches art at Sinhagad Spring Dale School in Ambegaon. For him, art is all about passion and experiment. Shinde has followed this principle and his experiments have lead him to explore a new medium.

“Once I was making a collage and one particular shade of colour was missing. So, I used an onion peel in the collage as a substitute,” says Shinde, on how he came across the idea of using onion and garlic peels in his paintings. Thus having come across a new, delicate medium, Shinde exploited it to make small greeting cards. When that worked, he used the same trick on the big canvas. It took him almost 25 years to master the artform.

According to him, it’s important to step outside the comfort zone and experiment to make discoveries. “The peels are not waste. We have to make the best out of waste,” says Shinde. His palette consists of only seven or eight shades.

Seemingly, the technique of making a peel collage is simple. He collects onion and garlic peels of different shades. After outlining a collage, Shinde will choose the colours and shades that he wants to use for a particular work and carefully pasts them on the canvas with the help of an adhesive. Once the collage is ready, he uses a thin spread of glue to ensure that the peels don’t fall off. “For detailing, I use crushed peels. Since, it is hard to find darker shades, I burn or sun dry them to get the shade I want,” adds Shinde.

Balgandharva Art Gallery, Sanjay Gangaram Shinde, Mahatma Phule Mandai lane, collage paintings, Nature’s Life, Nandi, King of Farmer, indian express news

Artist Sanjay Gangaram Shinde's painting.

With the responsibility of nearly 3,000 high school students on his shoulders, Shinde’s plate is always full with trying to arrange workshops, competitions and classes. He uses the extra time to hold exhibitions to showcase his paintings. He held his first exhibition in 2011.

Shinde’s unique collages also made it to the Limca Book of Records and Asia Book of Records in 2012 and 2014 respectively. His art has been registered with the government’s handicraft department.

Dedicating all his success to his guru Bhaiyasaheb Omkar, Shinde says, “It is the blessing of my guru that I am able to do something like this. He always encouraged me to push the limit.”

Patrons often show concern about the longevity of the medium. Especially those who buy the works want to know how long would the collage last since it’s made of a very delicate material. “There are paintings which I made in 1999, they are still there. Nobody has complained to date. It also depends on the kind of care that the patron takes,” he adds.