Tradition and transition come alive at Punjab Kala Bhawan

  • Nirupama Dutt, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2016 13:51 IST

Time is never still, it moves like a bubbling brook bringing change of sight, ideals and vision. What was there a moment ago, is now gone. Change is inevitable but if it happens too rapidly, it takes a toll on life and tradition. It is then that the painter or the poet enters to point out what is lost and what is gained.

Tradition and transition are the themes that Ram Prakash Verma highlights in his paintings and installation titled ‘Layers of Time’, which will be opened by art historian BN Goswamy at Punjab Kala Bhawan on Thursday.


Verma takes it on himself to paint the layers of time harking back to tradition and making memory a medium in identifying what was, what is and what will be. Through a complex creative imagery gathered from a calm childhood and early youth in Bhiwani and then over time seeing the world shrink to a global village, the artist creates tales of then and now in acrylic on canvas.

Abundance of buildings become the backdrop in which symbols of life today and life yesterday come face to face and a central figure chooses to opt out of the great hurry to be there, to do that and choose a soulful existence in spite of the odds. The symbol may be of a child chasing the less-seen butterfly, the man merrily blowing at the trumpet or the dreamer stretched out against the midnight blue of the night recalling a line of Ghalib: ‘Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat-din’.


The installations add to the theme with walls becoming an engaging metaphor for both civilisation and human existence which is never without dilemma. The walls built with real bricks also provide a merry moment as they grow clay ears as one is reminded of the proverb ‘deewaron ke bhi kaan hain’.

The crumbling walls or ‘girati deevarein’ is yet another symbol put to use by the artist with a tilted brick wall as the painter recalls a well-cherished Urdu couplet: ‘Ghar ki deevarein behtar hai ghar hi mein gi jayein/Aphvein phaila karati hain jab girati hai deevar gali mein (It’s best that the walls of the home fall inside/Rumours spread when a wall falls into the street)’. It is for the viewer to interpret which wall should fall and which not.


The entry and exit of the exhibition has another memorable spectacle - a mobile temple built on a cart festooned with images of various gods being towed by a cow house to house taking the darshan to the doorstep of the devotees hard-pressed for time in the hurry-scurry of the fast pace of life. Well, the whole world is in a hurry and mercifully art has the time to tell it all.


WHAT: Art Exhibition

WHERE: Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16

WHEN: February 25 to 27

TIMINGS: 11am to 7pm

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