The Fisherman, the Artist and the OceanThe Fisherman, the Artist and the Ocean

The Fisherman, the Artist and the Ocean

The entwinement of the ocean in our lives is ever present; for artist Subodh Kerkar, it is his master and his muse.

The world begins and ends with the ocean, as does a fisherman's life. And for this ocean artist, the story of this inseparability can not be limited to a painted canvas - but rather performed by local fishermen themselves.

"How's the line, Kelly?"
A warm voice rings out over our shared oceans. Its vessel, the 21st-century phone, brings a voice from miles away into my living room.
"I can hear you just fine"
There is a happy, murmured agreement.
The friendly voice is Subodh Kerkar from Goa, India. An artist with a diverse body of work, washed with social, political and religious issues - often a commentary on his own history and that of the seascape on which he grew up.
With works ranging from performance pieces and sculptures to watercolours and installations, Subodh's artist journey has not been linear. Though always surrounded by art, especially that created by his father Chandrakant Kerkar, his first career was in medicine, working as a doctor in a fishing village on the border of Goa, India. Naturally, most of his patients were fishermen, leading to an intimate understanding of these sea-dwelling lives. What became incredibly apparent was the indivisibility of their lives from the sea.

The Ocean and his Art

His most recent body of visual performative work, Fisherman and the Ocean, feels like one long-awaited homecoming. Not only is it a message of the fishermen and their entwinement with the ocean, but the artist's as well.
"The ocean is both inside and outside my work; my master and my muse.
"The whole idea of this work is to present the inseparability of the fishermen and the ocean. Their life is almost marinated in the ocean."
Each image portrays a moment of connection between these men, their livelihoods and the fluidity of the watery world that connects us all.
The fishermen become the boat. The fishermen become the fishbone. They sit together and perform an oceanic ritual. Their lives begin and end with the sea. There is an innate celebration of the way the ocean touches us all.
Subodh’s work is not only the story of the fishermen but a celebration of the role the ocean once had and will continue to play in shaping civilisations.
"If you consider the culture of Goa as a sculpture, who is the sculpture? The ocean is.”
"Because the ocean is not just the provider of food and minerals but it derives sculptures. The ocean is a medium of intercontinental cultural diffusion. I celebrate the role of the ocean in creating civilisations and perhaps also destroying them."
The ocean has been a passage of flowing ideas, religion, people and culture for thousands of years. And it will continue to be - even if that passage of knowledge is now travelling via a phone rather than by boat.
What is abundantly clear is that the ocean plays a significant role in every aspect of life. It is more than just a place to sink your toes into wet sand, it is a place of creative revival, of community survival and a place to call home.
Subodh’s father once told him on their daily beach walk, to look to the horizon and keep your mind as broad as the eye can see. Artists who keep the curious child alive inside will never be short of inspiration.
Unsurprisingly, he left our conversation with an anecdote - one that sums up his work and his Being quite remarkably.
When waves crash on the beach, most of the tide will wet the same sand that it has wet before. And then, at some point, a big wave will come and rush ahead, breaking past old boundaries and wetting new sand.
If there is only one lesson we must grasp from my conversation with Subodh Kerkar, it is this. In any creative space we cannot stay in one place, soaking in the same sand day in and day out. Forge ahead, wet new sand, explore new realms of thinking and creating, and keep your heart and mind as broad as the horizon.