7th June 2016, has to be the best art treat for me in my last 6 months of stay in India. There were so many beautiful people I met, who shared so much of their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm with me, which makes me count my blessings. So this article today is going to first talk about the experience of witnessing two great artists of India who created a great legacy through their artworks which are still cherished by common man almost more than two decades of these artists’ leaving this world.
A.A. Almelkar: Inspiration and Impact: Curated Show by Suhas Bahulkar
We visited this show first in the afternoon at National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai along with Mr. Ravi Paranjape and Mr. Rahul Deshpande (well known artists from Pune). Mr. Suhas Bahulkar who not only curated the show, but has also written a book on the life of artist Almelkar, showed us the exhibition which spreads along the three floors of this beautiful British Architectural Building in Fort Mumbai.
About the Artist: Abdul Rahim Appabhai Almelkar (10 October 1920- 12 December 1982)
“Abdul Rahim Appabhai Almelkar is well known for his own distinct ‘Almelkar style’ inspired by Indian miniatures. Almelkar was obsessed by traditional values of Indian art and by an Indian ethos, while the Progressive Artists Group was challenging all forms of art traditions in Mumbai. Almelkar started working vigorously in his Indian style and remained faithful to it all his life.”
He was recipient 20 Gold Medals, 24 Silver Medals and several cash awards. He had 44 exhibitions in India and abroad.
The exhibition shows works from early days of artist’s life, to his illustrations of life in Malaysia and Cambodia during his few months visit to these Asian countries, with snippets of his personal life, friends, family and his love for the tribal community in India and ends with paintings of his students who were impacted by his style.
Mr. Bahulkar, shared some stories of Mr. Almelkar, where he mentioned that, Mr. Almelkar, Mr Ira Raza, Mr M. F Hussain were all good friends in the Mumbai art world; they always visited each other’s exhibition and showed support. There are many stories about the widening rift between the realistic and modernism in Indian Art world post independent era; but not many know that these artists have also been friends despite their differences.
There were 1000+ artworks , sketches, illustration, trace works , letters and more exhibited in this show out of which some works were found in private collection, friends and family members who received them as gifts from the artist himself and some were in personal collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art- Mumbai. There were most beautiful and intricate works of Deccan style India Miniature paintings done for Calendar work for which the artist was paid Rs300 per artwork, but soon he found out that the artwork were printed without his signature, due to which he ceased working on such project forever.
It was sad to hear that Mr. Almelkar’s last exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai in 1982 was a great disappointment as he didn’t sell a single work. His last works were all Ink sketches done on cardboard which he found convenient to use in his hospitalization stage. After witnessing his masterpieces from the last show; it was disheartening to see that his best works were not appreciated. Soon after the show he died of heart attack. Later, Mr, Bahulkar did find his personal letter saying he was disappointed and shocked to see such cold response to his show in Mumbai.
Later in 1986, almost 1200+ of his works were collected by National Gallery of Modern Art Mumbai due to which we could witness such beautiful exhibition even today!
There’s so much to learn from this exhibition beside the artworks; the dedication of artists towards his style of work, his personal ups and downs and also teaches you that you can’t label an artist or put him/her in a box as their style, quality of work increases as their life experiences increases.
The exhibition is now extended until 16th August 2016, so please visit this show especially with young children who should witness this beautiful creation, so they feel inspire and understand the rich art history of India.
TIP: Plan your visit in a group of 5+ people and book 8 days in advance so the museum can organize a guide for you. Guide will make this exhibition worthwhile for you!
S.M. Pandit a Centenary Exhibition 1916-2016: Jehangir Art Gallery
Visiting the Exhibition Opening ceremony of S. M. Pandit Centenary Exhibition has to be the best way to visit Jehangir Art Gallery for first time for me. Mr. Ravi Paranjape, Mr. Raj Thackeray and Mr. Vasudeo Kamath were chief guest for the opening.
About the Artist:
I have seen S.M.Pandit’s paintings only on cutout of old Vogue Style Magazines that my father had collected in the 40s and 50s when there was no colored photography and artist was the only person who could show how the Bollywood Stars look like in magazines. So, to see that photographic memory of mine, in real life-size paintings by the creator himself was a sheer joy I couldn’t express! The quality of work and the freshness of colours used by the artists was marvelous, something you can never forget once seen.
There were nearly 150+ Original paintings, sketches, portraits, magazine covers and more exhibited by the artist’s Son and Grandson; which is open for public viewing after 25years+. It’s amazing to see the sheer will and hard work the family members have put together to showcase such huge collection which is privately held within the family and collectors in Mumbai.
Mr. Ravi Paranjape shared his memories of Panditji as they shared friendship of over two decades. In his speech Mr. Paranjape shared that art has power of building wealth creating nation, which needs to be harnessed today.
Mr. Thackeray shared his memory of growing up in Mumbai, learning to appreciate art from his artistic neighborhood which not only helped him to become an artist, but also to appreciate the creative people and support their journeys.
I was gob smacked to learn that Panditji never used a model or muse for any of his paintings, but his work is marvelous because of his thorough study of human Anatomy and emotions, as shared by Mr. Vasudeo Kamath. “Every painting brings out a natural emotional response from the viewer and that states the power of S. M .Pandit’s as a creator” said Mr. Vasudeo Kamath.
Listening to all these speakers, I realized that what they shared was true for me. Seeing, appreciating beautiful art from early age, has lead me to this path of running a social cause in this creative industry today and which in turn has proven that art can help in creating wealth sustainability.
Apart from this exhibition, meeting so many different who’s who of Art world in Mumbai was a great joy. Ending the day over super with well known artists from Pune, Mumbai and Kolhapur was a cherry on top! Thank you Mr. Vasudeo Kamath, Mrs. Kamath, Mr. Suhas Bahulkar, Mrs, Bahulkar,Mr. Ravi Paranjape, Mr. Pedgaonkar, Mr. Rahul Deshpande, Mr. Maazgaonkar for your time and memories.
Note: I would personally like to thank Mr. Ravi Paranjape Sir for giving me this opportunity to accompany him to Mumbai for these two beautiful shows.
We regret not publishing this article prior to 17th June when the show was on, as we were busy working towards the Creative Conference in Pune.
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