Art - 2

Weekends have become synonymous with discovering art the past couple of months. As if to return to texts and studying, I have taken to loitering the corridors of NGMA, Jehangir, and the Prince of Wales Museum in something of a big way. Yes, I've been art hopping, and HOW. And of course I have a partner in crime!

I've done several hops in the recent past, so I'm really just going to do a swift review of them all - not that I'm an academic authority, but for the emotions all of those walks evoked within...


The first mention in this series is Amrita Sher Gill's paintings on display at NGMA. Much acclaimed and praised for her work, I found Sher Gill's style nothing short of amateur and at most akin to a student's - underdeveloped and leaving much to be desired. Given - she died early, led a large ill and unhappy existence, etc, there s still a certain level of laborious effort visible in at least her early work, which was large during her Paris art school education. At best, I enjoyed the works that dated between '35 and '39. However everything else fell rather dull in comparison. What disappointed me further was the poor maintenance of these works of art. If they were so valuable, why did they have cracks?

Cracks in the painting
The number of self portraits basically made her the equivalent of the Delhi/ Bandra selfie-obsessed chick of her time. While a heavy influence of Van Gogh is visible in those portraits, none of the texture or strokes have either been replicated with intricacy or originality. All in all, I was only disappointed.

Climb up to the NGMA Dome
What was also a fantastic discovery, however, on this particular trip, I happened to realise the dome of the Gallery was open. On reaching the top of the stairs - the echoes reverberating louder with every ascending step - i stood agape: about 50 of the country's - I kid you not - the COUNTRY's most prestigious, most valued and most beautiful pieces of modern paintings and sculpture lay elegantly displayed on the periphery of the space. I did not know where to begin. Here is a glimpse...


The following weekend, I was at Prince of Wales with the original agenda of having a dekko of some select works of modern Indian artists. Apart from the Bendre and one lonely Hussain, nothing really struck a chord.  The Bendre was a 3D painting, entirely in oil and canvas. Needless to say, I was spellbound and sadly, may never lay my eyes on that precious discovery ever again, Having said that I'm glad I at least had the opportunity to claim with conviction, that I know what a Bendre looks like.


What was a bigger surprise was the ensuing weekend during which I saw a series of line drawings by various artists - since it was themed, once witnessed this rich diversity of stylistic possibilities within what was broadly termed as "line drawings". From Bawa, to Ghulammohammad Sheikh, to Bhupen Khakkar, to (my new favourite-) Bendre, to Hussain's Sansad Upanishad (yes! they actually left a copy of the gigantic coffee table book for suckers like me to leaf through!), they were all there for the art-lover's sore eyes.


The same trip to South Bombay also yielded discovery of a new photographer - Zeeshan Latif. Tarq was hosting a collection of this young photographer's black and white pictures of his grandfather. The sheer personal-ness and intimacy of every frame touched me. I was at once, charmed as well as transported to Manivilla. South Bombay must have many such stories. However, the charm also lay in this particular tale's telling. Instead of the usual b/w photos matte printed and framed with soft lighting in the gallery, Tarq was robbed of all light and the photos were back illuminated as if mini kiosks at bus stands. Whether it was the aged China or the wrinkles on his grandfather's face or the pigeon legs in the corners of his German Shephard's eyes - it all came alive through this interesting new representation. It wasn't exaggerated, but the starkness left an impression.


Several months ago, almost, perhaps last winter, (was it during Kala Ghoda, may be?), I was walking down from Jehangir Art gallery towards Kala Ghoda, when I saw this bunch of painting students hard at work on live portraits. I decided to capture some moments from that time too, considering I was never going to be part of an art class myself nor had I witnessed one before...




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