World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 111 - Vinod Madhok

Vinod Madhok lives in New Delhi, India. His works are a mix of photography and painting. He is attracted by abstract art. With flakes of light he succeeds in making very elegant artwork.

Vinod Madhok: “There is a saying ‘Those who cannot paint, photograph’.  My idea was: how about combining the two? Painting with photography. I love art, but I cannot paint. I started with it and I still do. I am trying to paint through a lens in a unique way.”

Abstract form of art

He creates abstract images with flakes of light captured through the lens. He enhances the raw material in post processing. “What you see emerge is visual delight.” He also photographs landscapes, sculptures, citylife and also applies a process of abstraction to it. “The photos give not only a look but also a feel of painting. Once these images are printed on a canvas, they just look like a crafted painting.”

Although Madhok is exploring various forms to express his photography, he notes that most of his work revolves around an abstract form of art. “This form of art gives me a complete freedom to explore and play with imperfections. I don’t like to create perfect images, but rather imperfect images. Life is not perfect, so why art needs te be perfect?”

The abstract artform gives him opportunity to explore all he loves doing: playing with light, shapes and shadow. “It’s more like poetry. My imperfections together with spontaneity lead me to an unusual kind of images.”

Late start

Vinod Madhok made a very late start in photography and the arts. More than thirty years he worked in financial services, media, capital markets and investment banking. In 2011, at the age of 54, he definitely chose for a new direction. “In the financial industry I was self employed as a trader into derivatives. That is again a very creative field. Also in that profession I loved taking the road less taken.”

Asked for his key work, he indicates that he has two kind of key-works. “The first are painting like images made through a photographic process through long exposure, multiple exposure, merging and de-merging images. Most of these images, when printed on canvas, give a feel of painting. The second line of key-works consists of creating fine art images through capturing flakes of light with the lens and thereafter digitally enhancing them.  

How did he end up in photography after such a different career? “It was a co-incidence. I was doing some poetry and I needed images to go along with the poems. So I bought a camera and I tried taking images. When you buy a Cannon camera they give you an invitation for a few classes to learn photography. When I attended their first class I lost interest in photography as I found it too technical for me.”  

The technical aspect

For almost eight month after buying the camera Madhok didn’t use it. But this changed. “While going to a family holiday, my son Karan pushed me to carry along the camera. I still didn’t know how to operate it. I hurriedly learned the basics to operate through Youtube. And after coming back from that holiday, my rendezvous with the camera continued unabated.”

He met someone who was very good with the technical aspects. When he has questions about basics, gear etc. he keeps consulting this person. “I still am not very good with the technical aspect, software for instance. Taking a perfect image means a lot of post processing in photoshop and other programs which do not interest me. I wanted a complete freedom of these technical aspects and I narrowed down my focus on an abstract form of art photography.”

Once he started on this track one thing evolved in another. “Initially I started with landscapes. Thereafter some street photography. But my love for art took me to capture theater performances, dances and fashion shows. Portraits I didn’t hardly make. More and more I was drawn towards an abstract form of art.”

Looking back at the past years, he says: “I have not undergone any formal training other than learning through work of others.“ Vinod Madhok loves to travel to art museums in Paris, Vienna and other cities. “Beautiful work of art is to see there. It is so inspiring to see how one can create beautiful work of art in a spontaneous way.” In 2016 he also started painting abstracts with colors. “This helped me to understand much more about the abstract form of art, colors, synergy, shapes and the ratio aspect of it.”

Favorite painters

He talks about his favorite painters. “For me it is so inspiring to go through the work of a renowned Dutch artist during the Golden Age era, Johannes Vermeer, to learn about treatment of lights and shadows. And also to understand how to create images using color as light through the later part of work of Henri Matisse. He called it ‘painting with scissors’.”

“Usually we are so tempted to include everything in the frame, but Henri Matisse ‘painting with scissors’ work teaches us how to use art of subtraction to carve beautiful images like a sculpture. It is very inspiring to me to see work of Michelangelo, the famous sculptor, who once said ‘I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free’.  Another artist I admire and learn the most of is Edward Hopper, whose paintings just give a feel of a photograph.”     

So most of his learning is through exploring into the unknown, following his imperfection and spontaneity. “I must confess my proces of creating art images through photography is so full of failures. One needs to keep exploring and then suddenly there emerges that special image from nowhere and that makes you smile!”


Finally, when asked about his philosophy, he says: “I learned that everything can be art. It’s so magical to splash colors, light and shadows and see their magic. This encouraged me to experiment and explore more and more by venturing into unknown fears of failures and discover magical moments of art waiting to be captured. For me it’s more like sculpting with light and colors!”    

He ends with a citation of a poem of Robert Frost:

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by’


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