New Delhi, February 2 -Politics and history are the things we breathe on in the Capital and adding contemporary art to the combination only makes it a stimulating potion. With Martyr’s Day just gone by on Friday, Mahatma Gandhi seemed to be the flavour of the India Art Fair on its concluding day on Sunday.
And, sharing limelight with Gandhi was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Vibhor Sogani dealt with ‘Mahatma in him’ at the Art Alive Gallery. Titled A Silent March and A Legendary Smile, Sogani’s works in reflective steel brought alive subtle images of the Father of the Nation.
The Jaipur-born and Delhi-based artist believes that every great journey has to begin with a single step and the initiative to take the first step has to come from within-that is the ‘Gandhi in us’.
The artist’s images celebrate 100 years of Gandhi’s homecoming from South Africa For Switzerland-based artist Hugo Bonamin, Modi and Gandhi were his muses for the Portret Project. For Bonamin, these figures depict the perception of history, violence and loss.
His visual vocabulary involves fragmentation and transformations, which can unsettle perceived identities of the muse. In an attempt to push boundaries of portraiture, this artist-of Argentine, French and Swiss origin-used Gandhi’s last words, “Hey Ram” or “Oh My God” to construct an abstract image of his visage.
Following Modi for the last 12 years is Mumbai-based artist Viveek Sharma. Almost as a tribute to the prime minister, Sharma’s work Sons of the Same Soil gives the perception of the Indian flag and Gandhi giving their blessings to Modi. Sharma uses the metaphor of a chessboard in the painting to show that Modi has played the game of patience to make it to the top.
“The reason I drew both Gandhi and Modi on the same canvass is because our prime minister always talks about Gandhi. Both are cool headed, unruffled and belong to the same soil,” said Sharma, who took about two years to create his masterpiece.
Meanwhile, Nantu Behari Das’ installation on the three wise monkeys-embodying the proverbial principle of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”-lets the viewer come up with their own interpretations of his work.
Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore and the memory of a past tradition, Das says his work dealt with people’s deliberate denial of reality. This was his way of addressing contemporary issues using new forms.
That’s not all. Members of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat), posted to different parts of the world, a multitude of postcards with portraits of Gandhi designed by artists such as Pushpamala N., Atul Dodiya, Nilima Sheikh, K.G. Subramanyan, A. Ramachandran and Vivan Sundaram.