• Sunday, July 03, 2022


Exclusive: Indian artist wins UK’s prestigious art award

Prabhakar Pachpute (Photo by Dani Bapista)

By: Pooja Shrivastava

ARTIST Prabhakar Pachpute has today (26) become the first India-based artist to be awarded a prestigious UK art award.


The Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize, set up 18 years ago, is given to an outstanding piece of contemporary art. It is a part of the International Artes Mundi Prize.

Pachpute, who is based in Pune, India, told Eastern Eye: “I am deeply honoured and really happy. I feel humbled.”

Pachpute’s artworks – Rattling Knot  (2020) and The Close Observer (2020) – will be acquired by National Museum Wales for its permanent collection of contemporary art.


Installation view at Artes Mundi 9 at National Museum, Cardiff- Photo credit -PollyThomas


The works are currently on display at National Museum Cardiff as part of the UK’s largest biennial international exhibition and art prize – Artes Mundi 9 – which runs until September 5.

In an interview with Eastern Eye, Pachpute revealed how most of his work revolves around mining and its societal and human aspects.

Born and brought up in a small town in Maharashtra, India, he pursued the art of sculpting from one of the most prestigious universities for fine arts in India- Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) of Vadodra.

After pursuing some time in this field, Pachpute said he felt drawn towards arts depicting mining and related aspects owing to his childhood memories.

“I never thought that mining would become a subject of my art. But around 2011-2012, memories started coming like a flashback and I started exploring this area,” the artist said.

Travelling to different places and meeting different people also helped Pachpute with his art.

“I travelled and visited all kinds of mines in Brazil and also in the US. That engagement was important for me to understand the universe and it also helped me to compare the practices as they happen in India.

“In the UK, I saw restoration of open-pit mines. So those things actually really triggered me to focus on that aspect,” Pachpute said.


‘Canary in a coalmine’ – Charcoal on Wall-Clark House Initiative, Mumbai, Shunya collective


In his work, Pachpute has created a visual language that reflects the working conditions, relentless excavation, unequal social development, and land politics as he has seen them in the mining industry.

Pachpute has exhibited internationally from São Paulo to Istanbul, from Barcelona to Brisbane. Yet this acquisition marks the first time that work by the Indian artist has been purchased by a museum or institution in the UK.

On Indians’ receptiveness towards arts and the artists, Pachpute said “there is very little support and encouragement from the government and society”.

“I don’t see that many scholarships or awards or encouragement or even platforms in India. There are a few private institutions, but in terms of population here, it’s very less,” Pachpute told Eastern Eye. “There are so many young artists still struggling for their career.”

Admitting that his own family was initially not very happy over his choice of higher education as well as profession, Pachpute said India is yet to develop an “appreciation for art”.

Eastern Eye

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