"Art is an idea and skill is one of the things which will help you," Subodh Kerkar on what art means to him

The Goan artist talks to Bazaar India about the intricacies of his exhibits, his beloved pieces of art, his views on culture, and more.

Harper's Bazaar India

Subodh Kerkar, known for his avant-garde artworks and installations, calls himself an ocean artist. “I’m dreaming of creating an Indian Ocean museum,” says the sexagenarian who considers the ocean both his master and his muse. The founder of the Museum of Goa—a unique space where the work of art is contemporary yet the narrative is built in response to history, so it is timeless in a way—Subodh’s work often transcends borders, blending his global perspectives with his local experiences.

Art and technology are intertwined since time immemorial. A believer in technology, Subodh collaborates with electronic engineers, mechanical experts to seamlessly integrate innovation into his exhibits. “I’m 64 years old. I’ve been keeping myself updated. In my museum there is something called Goa’s Ark (It is a work of art which describes the Christianisation of Goa and how the temples were demolished and churches were built, showcasing the history of Hinduism and Christianity in Goa), which is a mechanical sculpture—hundreds of images, sculptures of Gods which are rocking inside a boat. We use mapping sensors and projections as well,” he shares. Additionally, his portraits of fishermen and sculptures made from recycled tyres and mushrooms showcase his commitment to using diverse materials and innovative techniques.

“Over the course of his 35-year career, he has explored various mediums such as painting, sculptures, installation, performance art, and now multi-media,” says art consultant, Geet Nagi. “This extensive practice is evident in the meticulous detail and grand scale of his creations, showcasing his deep artistic expertise.”

So, what does art mean to Subodh? “Art is an idea and skill is one of the things which will help you, but just pure skill doesn’t make you an artist. So, you have to read, you should be aware of the political situation, history, anthropology, archaeology, and architecture,” the Goan artist tells Bazaar India. To aspiring artists, his words of wisdom are simple yet profound: be hardworking and honest to yourself. Amongst his beloved pieces of art are “Vasco de Gama”, which is a political sculpture challenging the notion of erasing the Portuguese influence from Goa. “I think there is nothing called ‘pure culture’ that exists in the world. Hinduism went to Southeast Asia, Buddhism went to China, Japan, Sri Lanka. So, I think religious ideas and culture do travel,” he says.

While art was Subodh’s first love, he did not think of it as a profession till much later. In fact, he studied and worked as a doctor for seven years before taking the plunge. “I was always interested in art because my father used to paint. But I never thought I would take it as a profession because, well, I was a good student, and I could get admission anywhere. And so, I became a doctor. After seven years of practice, running a hospital, I suddenly realised that my real passion is in arts and not in medicine,” he says.

So, what’s next for Subodh? “I am working on a beer museum, a museum of contemporary art inspired by beer history and culture, which will be inaugurated within six months.” Now that’s something to look forward to.