An exciting new exhibition, Indian Travels, by British artist Paul Wadsworth is currently on display at Galeria Côrte-Real in Paderne

With 300 days of sunshine per year and the benefit of Atlantic breezes, the Algarve is classed as Southern Europe’s climate gem. But in August, unless you’re enjoying air-conditioned comfort, I expect you’re feeling hot. At this time of year temperatures in the mid-to-high 30ºC are common, occasionally topping 40ºC.

Now imagine India where this summer in New Delhi temperatures surged to 52.3ºC  – that’s 126º Fahrenheit. Previously, a high of 51º was recorded in Rajasthan with hot winds blowing from the northwest throughout the day and night.

So why have a love affair with India, one of the hottest countries on Earth? What’s the attraction of Rajasthan, for instance? Ask artist Paul Wadsworth who describes it as a place of beautiful palaces, magnificent forts and picturesque lakes.

His home base in Cornwall holds none of the same attractions and this explains why he spends so much time travelling round India, staying there for months on end. Recording every place and experience he encounters, his paintings are filled with atmosphere, and invariably they are bathed in heat.

On earlier visits he mainly worked in large sketchbooks using them as a source of ideas and memories that he turned into paintings when he returned to his studio back home. More recently, he’s changed his travel habits, packing large quantities of paint and heavy-weight paper to create his paintings directly on location. And his bags are so heavy that on one occasion the straps broke, but according to Paul the effort of coming fully equipped is worth it. This method, he says: “Guarantees the authenticity of the images”.

Coconut palms on the beach at Kerala surrounded by nature; birds, frogs and snakes; a spider that popped through the window of his shack at night, fishermen busy with their nets; all recorded at the time. His paintings read like an exotic travelogue:

  • A punt ride to a Hindu temple on the Golden Island.
  • A white knuckle taxi journey to the wall paintings at Bundi.
  • The sacred lake at Pushkar surrounded by its pink hills.
  • Lord Brahma’s only Indian temple.
  • The narrow winding streets in the blue city of Jodpur.
  • Crossing the Thar Desert to visit the hilltop citadel at Jaiselmere.
  • Numerous and colourful chaotic streets.
  • Varanasi, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Cochin.

There are many new places for him still to explore and others to return to. Making a point of travelling between November and February when temperatures are less vicious, Paul explains: “India is the place where I can gather new ideas and stories, each area has its own diversities and character.

“On returning home with the paint now on the paper, every picture must be carefully packed. At my studio, I go through them all and decide what’s working and how next to proceed. Some may need attention and others not. Further images might come to mind like the temple steps I saw in Jodpur but hadn’t recorded at the time. It’s a painstaking process deciding when the collection is complete, how best to divide and display each painting and where.”

This is the first time they have come to Portugal where Galeria Côrte-Real in Paderne is Paul’s sole representative. Somehow or other they seem to fit perfectly with the Algarve’s summer heat.

Words: Carolyn Kain

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