Twelve artists, infinite interpretations of the significance the overarching figure of Mahatma Gandhi holds in their lives, six decades post his assassination.
Bapu, a commemorative exhibition curated by Delhi based art critic Gayatri Sinha explores the contemporary relevance of the most widely represented figure of the 20th century. “I’ve chosen artists who have responded to Gandhi and the value attached to him in their works. These are artists with a strong political sense of India, those who deal with subjects of violence and forgetting violence and those who work on new India,” she said.
The month-long exhibit at the SaffronArt Gallery in Prabhadevi is doubly significant following the attacks that ravaged the city two months ago. But having worked on this mixed media presentation almost a year ago, Sinha was clear that she wanted to examine how these post-independence artists would respond to a figure so many decades since his demise. “Gandhi had an intimate relationship with art as he understood the power of art. We invest in his constant renewal because his image as the moral arbitor remains unshaken. I was interested in knowing whether this investment today is deeper or more diffused and abstract,” Sinha explained.
According to Baroda based artist Surendran Nair, Gandhi evokes contradictory emotions in us all and whether we agree with the way he dealt with issues or not is immaterial because he cannot be escaped. “He is the product of a particular time and the way he negotiated is commendable,” said Nair, whose painting Tathaagat, myth and history conflate.
Animation, photography, the moving image, scultpure, painting and Gandhian signs and symbols are the ways used to suggest how Gandhi remains the eternal muse. “I was not literally connected to Gandhi the person and hence my immediate reaction was to explore the idea of Gandhi through a potent symbol, his spectacles,” said Baroda based artists, Anandajit Ray.