the mythological frescoes of nandalal bose in vadodara

In the heart of Baroda, now called Vadodara, within the royal Gaekwad family’s once sprawling grounds is the Kirti Mandir or Temple of Fame. The gigantic stone cenotaph was built in 1936 to ensure their ancestors’ posterity. A sun, moon, and a map of undivided India etched on a bronze globe are perched on top of its shikhara—a sovereign declaration of the spread and timelessness of Gaekwad rule.

But the cenotaph is weathered now and forgotten. It is visited on the rare occasion when a royal family member passes away and is brought to the adjacent cremation grounds to be burnt and then transposed into a plaster-of-paris bust placed in one of the rooms lining the passageways.

A lone 70-year-old guard, who has spent the last 60 years serving the royal family, with his one-year-old grandson’s arms wrapped around his neck unlocks the large doors should perchance a traveller land up at the temple’s doorstep. But this post is not about the royal family. I will write about them on another date. This one is about the art and artist whose mythological masterpieces decorate the walls inside Kirti Mandir. Continue reading

art focus – rockscapes and mindscapes – vinod sharma

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“No, there is no story to my art. My work is not even titled.”

“But you call it rockscapes, and I have heard you at times refer to them as mindscapes?”

Vinod Sharma laughs out aloud, and with a twinkle in his eye explains how his professor at Delhi College of Art coined the terms, albeit in passing.

“I just paint for the sheer joy of it. There is no other reason behind my delineations. There are no moral lessons. No deep revelations from my side. It is only personal joy.”

Sharma, originally from Delhi, has been painting his monumental monochromatic canvases—sophisticated in execution and mystical in content—for over two decades now. What started off as landscapes framed by windows later gave way to sceneries swathed in trees and people, and finally morphed into the present skeletal forms of the earth’s surface where Sharma got rid of all trappings and borders, for keeps. Continue reading

art focus – a summer mix – chemould prescott road

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There is the office ID card, the fancy pen, loose change, cell phone, a hand written note. Closer inspection brings to the fore yet further details: the worn Tee, crisp office linen shirt, the crumpled uniform, and slowly the faceless personalities defined by their shirt pockets fill the gallery, and I am in their midst.

Every now and then a spray of raindrops showers the city outside, taking no one by surprise. I am at A Summer Mix, Chemould Prescott Road, an exhibition of 15 gallery artists’ personal commentaries, on a grey monsoon clad day. Continue reading

art focus – journey to the roots – jamini roy 1887-1972

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“I do not care whether my paintings are good or bad. I want its appearance to be different.”
~ Jamini Roy

And different it is. Not different for the sake of being different, but different as in an expression of his authentic self. Jamini Roy (1887-1972), popularly conferred with the title of father of Modern Indian Art was from Beliatore village in Bankura, West Bengal. His art is his revisits to the simplicity and purity of his rural roots. He is not an outsider here ‘looking into’ rural India. He is the insider, painting his own familiar, much-loved world. Continue reading

art focus – masquerade and other apologues – anant joshi

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It is as if a rainbow had burst and spread its colour, both over vast mounted canvases and minute egg tempered paper boards, alike. I stand in the grey walled halls of Chemould Prescott Road and blink. And then gawk.

As I step closer, yet another world unfurls—a satire rooted in broadsheet cartoons morphed into the artist’s personal commentary on recent social and political events and personalities in India. I recognize Arvind Kejriwal, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. I see athletes and war zones, Jesus Christ and Hindu priests. Continue reading

art focus – deconstructed innings: a tribute to sachin tendulkar – tenart

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Indian contemporary art has come a long way in the last decade, distinctive in its blend of Indian subjectivity and international sensibilities. A landmark in this journey for the modern art enthusiast, and the sports fan in this case, is its current foray into the space of cross-disciplinary creativity. Continue reading