In the week ahead, visitors at the Piramal Art Gallery at the NCPA can view an early MF Husain painting in which the poised figure of a woman holds vigil, her featureless face indistinguishable from the bleak canvas.
Titled, Vigil, the 1960 oil canvas is one of 25 rare paintings by Maharashtra’s celebrated artists, on loan to the NCPA by the Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, for celebrations that mark the formation of the state of Maharashtra 50 years ago.
On May 1, the state will complete 50 years. Two-year long festivities to mark the golden jubilee began in May 2009. This year, phase one of the celebrations titled, Mumbai Saptarang, will see 250 state artists showcase their talents at seven city venues. NCPA is one such venue, which is hosting Natya Rang in partnership with the state government, a festival centred around the theme of the magic of theatre along with the state’s literature, music, dance, folk arts and poetry.
The noted artists whose works have been curated from the Academy archives for the ‘Masters of Maharashtra’ exhibition include Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, V.S. Gaitonde, H.A. Gade, Ambadas and S.H. Raza. “These artists were the pillars of contemporary Indian art in its formative years. We had many options for the showcase but these 25 artists truly forged a legitimate art scene for India,” said Dillip Tripathy, programme officer for conservation at the Lalit Kala Academy.
The week long festival seeks to highlight in particular the immense cultural contribution of the state’s folk artists through short showcases of one-act plays, short films and dance dramas. “Each year the NCPA has a performance season we call Anubhuti in which we explore new experiences. This year it has coincided with the government’s Saptarang festival in ode to the state. This is a great opportunity to present art forms that possibly don’t get represented too much in the city because it is not financially viable,” said Vijaya Mehta, director of NCPA.