Work of Art
Artists have always fascinated me and for a while after school I toyed with the idea of becoming an artist. Somehow it seemed romantic – a tortured soul, pouring out his angst on canvas, living on biscuits and chai, moving around with other long haired “hippies” and smelling eternally of turpentine and linseed oil, fingers encrusted with paint. For four months I even lived out this fantasy during the six month holiday we had after our school leaving exams. Those were the days when our exam papers were sent all the way to England to be corrected or at least the ones printed on blue paper and after almost four months or so our results would be announced. With the colleges in Mumbai opening in June/July, this meant a good long break from December till June.
So at 7.30 in the morning I would attend the Hobby Classes at the JJ School of Art, that wonderful place with high ceilinged studios. It was lovely to draw out still lives – human figures still as statues, compositions that unfolded with each stroke, charcoal drawings and sketches pencil, filling up sketch book after sketch book.
Mumbai has been fortunate enough to have a vibrant Art scene and has been the stepping stone to many a successful artist’s career. With Jehangir Art Gallery being the city’s premier art gallery and the small gallery at the Taj Mahal Hotel being the other important one, it was left to Dadiba Pundole ( Pundole Art Gallery), the late Kekoo Gandhy and Pheroza Godrej ( Cymroza) to provide adequate competition. Today, however, there are more than half a dozen galleries in Mumbai, Tao, Art Musings, The Viewing Room, Jamaat, Tao and Saakshi, Hacienda, Saffron Art are the premier art galleries hosting artists in Mumbai while other spaces like Bajaj Art Gallery, The Nehru Science Centre are popular too. Kekoo Gandhi has set up his own Chemould Prescott Art Gallery a few blocks away from the Jehangir where he originally used to display the artists he discovered.
The blossoming of art galleries is largely due to the popularity of Art as a form of investment and very often one can see a young couple take back an original painting with a glee akin to a proud parent taking his baby home from the hospital!
But despite the many galleries that have sprung up, Jehangir remains my favourite and for many years Hubby dear and I would wander through its various galleries soaking in the art – sometimes good and sometimes bad. This week we were treated to a really wonderful once in a life time treat – the exhibition of Raza’s original works right from the 60’s till the present. With an audio visual film, a book to glance at and of course different works from different periods in his life, one gets to see all the moods and changes that his painting has undergone. The constant themes of Prakriti, the Tree of Life and the Bindu remain throughout, changing yet still the same –
We were lucky to be treated to this fantastic splash of colour, paintings that speak out to you in a different voice each time you see them, getting deeper and deeper into your subconscious, by Art Musings a gallery run by Sangeeta and Shanti Chopra at Colaba. With the show opening at Jehangir last week (and the artist making a brief appearance) it will soon move to their own premises where you will be treated to more of this artist for a longer time. Go grab it. And quick!