Delhi-based artist Niladri Paul has accused Jessica Lall murder convict Manu Sharma aka Siddhartha Vashishta’s charity of promoting “rampant plagiarism”. The artist says one of the works exhibited in a recent art show by the Tihar Jail inmates, hosted by Sharma’s trust, is identical to a painting exhibited by him back in 2006. =
It was when he read an article on the exhibition —Colours of Hope — in HT City that Paul realised one of the artworks was strikingly similar to his work, Ragmala.
“I thought the show was a laudable effort, but to my horror, I found one of my own paintings staring at me, credited to an inmate,” says Paul, who thinks more than the inmate, it is the organisers who are to blame for not acknowledging that the work was inspired by him.
The organisers, however, say they duly put up a disclaimer. “The paintings are an amateurish effort. Some of the inmates also turned to books and magazines in the jail library for inspiration. So, we prominently displayed at the venue a notice that said, ‘Some of the work by Tihar inmates displayed here are replicated from original creations of well-known artists’. There is no intention of disrespect to any artist. Still, if some sentiments have been hurt, we apologise profusely,” reads a statement issued by the trust.
Paul, however, feels that a general disclaimer is not enough. “I have nothing against the artist, everyone is inspired. But I am angry with the organisers. Firstly, they should encourage inmates to come up with original works. Also, someone should have contacted the original artist and sought permission before putting the paintings on sale.”