Inspired by India’s myriad rich cultures and colours, artists from around the world have flocked to India for hundreds of years.
From painters and dancers to architects and even The Beatles, the country has sparked the imaginations of not just a great many artists but also a great variety of creative geniuses.
Among the latest is Marcus Hodge, an Oxfordshire-based painter and sculptor who has been visiting India for the best part of two decades.
A prolific creator of equestrian paintings, Marcus has created numerous stunning paintings of the ancient horse fairs of Rajasthan, the heartland for the breeding of indigenous horse breeds.
Sussex-born Marcus, 47, was inspired by his father Spencer – himself a distinguished painter – and grandfather who spoke at length about India when Marcus was growing up.
In a world dominated by often esoteric modern art – unmade bed anyone? – Marcus is a worshipper at the temples of the old masters: his paintings are startlingly realistic with not an abstract bush stroke in sight.
It is among the least trodden artistic paths trodden given that horses are among the most demanding animals to paint in a realistic style due to the animal’s’ muscle formations and majestic stance.
And it’s not just the beautiful Marwari horses that he likes to capture in his oils, it is what he calls are the “unsung people” – the horse breeders and shepherds of northern India – who “just get on with the hard graft” in a fast-changing India who is less-and-less tuned into their needs and traditions.
Inspired by those same people, Marcus is turning his passion for India and painting India into a charitable endeavour as well as part of the Prince Albert-backed Mission Enfance as well as through his own initiative with a children’s home in Rajasthan.
Ahead of a major exhibition of Marcus’ paintings at the Osborne Studio Gallery in Central London, the UKAsian’s editor Viji Alles caught up with the artist to discuss India, horse fairs, modern art and charity.
Marcus Hodge at the Osborne Gallery: from 22 October – 8 November