Pain, Anger, and Uncertainty: Why We Need to Learn from the Life of Artist Somnath Hore

Art is undoubtedly deeper than what we see on a canvas, print, or screen. It goes beyond any one form; art exists in our everyday life, but it takes an inquisitive mind to absorb it. Somnath Hore possessed such a mind. An Indian artist par excellence, Somnath’s preoccupation with the pain and suffering of others fueled his life’s work. Somnath Hore: Wounds is one of the many interesting reads by Likla and Kripa from the Art Exploration series. The book asks a  promise from the reader as it begins: read it with a kind and open heart. Empathy lies at the core of this book, and through his art, it is possibly what Hore sought from his patrons too.

Children experience and go through many emotions, even when they are not able to verbalize what they are feeling. Nevertheless, they can create art from a very young age. The endless drawings lying around a house are examples of one of the many ways in which they learn self-expression and empathy. Likla and Kripa’s book nudges young readers to explore their feelings and emotions through art. The idea of a ‘wound’ is what resonated with Somnath and it is carried forward throughout the book as well.

The book explores his struggles, and  his journeys as he navigated the hard-hitting realities of those around him. Through his art he captured how human suffering can never be permanently erased. Often, we shield our children from the harsh truths of life in order to protect them. However, the hesitancy to discuss difficult realities with them can hamper their growth and their ability to become mindful, kind individuals. This book of art explorations opens up avenues for conversation which children can safely inhabit. 

The book discusses the variety of forms through which Somnath’s art came to life – from sketching to printmaking. Through insightful art projects and thought-provoking prompts, the book calls upon the reader’s creativity as well as empathy. The book also comes with a mini journal that readers, children and adults alike, can use for record-keeping- to put down their thoughts as they go through their lives. These activities were designed to nurture free will and open expression, ideas that Somnath Hore put forth through his art.

Somnath Hore: Wounds is a book to sit down with and experience. It engages multiple senses as readers learn about the man Somnath was and the ways in which his art evolved. It teaches important lessons on patience, openness, and engagement. It encourages us to look at our wounds and the wounds of those around us, and inspires us to represent these through various media. It asks the reader: “What are the colours of sorrow? What do you feel when you hear the cries of starvation?” 

About Neev Book Award

The Neev Book Award for distinguished children’s literature was started in 2018 with an aim to recognize outstanding writing that leads to a fuller understanding of India, Indian lives, and Indian stories. This award aims to promote and encourage high-quality children’s literature from India. Each winner is honoured at NLF for their contributions with a certificate, trophy, and cash award of ₹1,00,000. The shortlists for Neev Book Award 2022 reflect the diversity of children’s literature while also emphasizing the need to foster human qualities of empathy, grief, compassion, and perseverance in young readers.


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