Reconnecting with art, albeit once a month, has become a much loved self-love ritual for me over the years. A ritual I have been fortunately able to carry through in my life in Mumbai. The contemporary art scene in India is pulsatingly alive, brimming with both stalwarts and newcomers alike. And never was it more obvious than during a recent afternoon spent at the Jehangir Art Gallery.
As usual on one Friday evening I was scouring my fb art pages, looking for what’s on in the city. Two names pop up. Jatin Das and Jai Zharotia. They were both my professors during art college days and that is enough for me to cancel all weekend plans and set off for kala ghoda on a lazy sunny Sunday, armed with a happy nostalgic smile.
What meets my eyes when I enter the gallery is rather unexpected – an eclectic mix of art by some of India’s most famed artists, yes. But there is more. There are also works by India’s idealistic, incredibly talented, relatively unknown artists. And if I were not to look at the names written on glued bits of paper stuck on the walls, I would not know who was who. And that was the magic of the showing.
Even as Jai Zharotia, a Priyadarshini Awardee’s oils create a world of fantasy where reality and dreams merge into birds, contemplative profiles and bulls cascading over an umbrella in a red, moonlit, rain drenched night, Nilesh Vede’s work is serene, powerful and rooted in Vipassana meditation. Vede’s ‘Life’ in acrylics is evocative of the Life of Pi, the monk balanced precariously on the edge of the boat, who having befriended his most obvious enemy calmly sails through the ocean of life.
Similarly whilst Jatin Das’ authoritative strokes paint figures which have sold at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Osian’s, Shaikh Zakhir Hussain an art teacher for the past 13 years, quietly deconstructs Quranic concepts into surrealistic, no less poignant Dali-like stories. His paintings are poetically titled ‘And Allah is the best of Providers’ and ‘Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?’.
Back to back, Vinod Sharma explores ‘mindscapes’ in his inimitable mature grain textures swathed in black and blue, as Kuldeepak Soni from Rajasthan follows his family tradition. Soni goes back generations and painstakingly composes a millennia old styled pichhwai with Shrinathji using mineral colors. And then there is Sachin Parelkar, an ex-Lintas creative who captures the abstract in his ‘Reflection’ and ‘Monsoon’ where it is not the form, but rather the spirit which he expresses in the amalgamation of colors.
The eclectic storytelling continues with Chaula Doshi, from Ahmedabad, who explores human relationships and self love; Her dramatic yet sensitive ‘Together’ portrays a circling cyber world where we are obsessively connected virtually, yet completely unconnected physically. Divya Sharma, a sports therapist who paints to ‘vent’ as she laughingly confesses, gets under the obvious in ’Hatching’ where once awake, we seem to gasp for breath, scream at times in joy or pain, but are never the same again for having taken birth.
The art stories didn’t end here. There were close to 200 works in all 4 halls, by nearly a 100 artists. Each a passionate vivid expression of an artist’s soul in a human life, concurrently a testimony to the richness of contemporary Indian art. Curated by Ravindra Mardia, of the Indian Artist Art Center (IAAC) and International Creative Art Center (ICAC), the exhibition, plainly and simply, brought good art forward, immaterial of the years behind the paintbrush strokes.
I was the happiest, of all. For I got to spend an afternoon well beyond what I had set out for ! 🙂
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Rango Ki Rimzim was on display at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, 1-7 July, from 11 am to 7 pm. To know more about the IAAC/ICAC artist networks and art camps click here
Jai Zharotia, Umbrella, merging reality into fantasy
Nilesh Vede, Life, befriending the obstacles
Jatin Das, Untitled
Shaikh Zakhir Hussain, Left: And Allah is the best of Providers; Right: Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?
Vinod Sharma, Mindscape
Kuldeepak Soni, Pichhwai with Shrinathji
Sachin Parelkar, Reflection, an abstraction of the horizon
Anant Mehta, Untitled
Divya Sharma, Hatching, now awake, forever
[All images courtesy Indian Artist Art Center]