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Delhi in ball pen

art-and-culture Updated: Jan 16, 2009 12:48 IST

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Amid the din of the 11th annual theatre festival under way at the National School of Drama (NSD) in the capital is a surprise treat tucked away in a green corner.

An exhibition of 27 etchings and sketches, "Drawings: Through Challenging Medium", by H.V. Sharma, an NSD alumnus, is a throwback to the company art of the 19th century - when artists meticulously documented slices of life and history during the British Raj, to preserve it for the generations to come.

The drawings, in big and miniature formats, are intriguing because of the artist's medium. Sharma uses the down-to-earth ball pen instead of ink, pencil and charcoal to capture his snapshots of the capital and its diverse crop of inhabitants.

The compositions - mostly still life studies of buildings, walls, forts and people - stand out for their details, tracery of fine lines and play of light and shade.

Made over a period between 1970 and 1980, the drawings include glimpses from the countryside and the city like "Huts to Yield Place", "Ancestral House","Imperial Hotel", "Tilak Bridge'', "Amidst the Babool Trees", "Khooni Darwaza", "A Tomb in Hauz Khas", "Shahjahan Suri's Mosque", "Firoz Shah Kotla", "Safdar Jung's Madrasa", "A door in Tughlaque's Mosque", "A Part of Humayun's Tomb", "Masjid Khairatulmanzil" and a "Tomb with Weeping Plant".

Two figurative sketches - one a line drawing of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and a man with spectacles titled, "A.P.J. Abdul Kalam" and "Spectacle/s" respectively - throb with life.

Sharma, who earned a diploma from the J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai, learnt the art of portraiture from Naik Singh Gill. Sharma shunned traditional materials, tools and techniques in favour of the ball pen on thick white paper.

"Of the many objects that I see, some are not defined by shape, colour and texture. These call my attention," Sharma said.