Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Viewer, Art and Gandhi

One good thing about Lalit Kala Akademy Galleries in New Delhi, like in the case of Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, when you have a show there, you get an eclectic mix of audience. Regular art viewers, artists, well-wishers of the artists, friends, buyers, investors, collectors, art critics, writers, theatre people, bureaucrats, gallerists, successful people, frustrated people, chai wallas, drivers etc come in see the works.

(from the foyer of LKA Gallery)

During the Freedom to March show curated by Anubhav Nath and myself, I saw different kinds of viewers who could tickle my curiosity in different levels. However, this man about whom I am going to talk about amplified my interest with his behavior before the works of art. He spent several minutes before each work, studied them carefully and even made some attempts to have a re-look at some images.

(Work by Manjunath Kamath)

Finally he reached in front of the works of Gigi Scaria and Manjunath Kamath. Both of them have done print works by digitally manipulating the existing images of Gandhi. Manjunath picks up several images of Gandhi and arrange them in a certain way so that a series of dialogue between ‘Gandhis’is created. Apparently satirical, this work evokes a sense of critique and re-interpretation of Gandhi’s public image as a performer. In Manju’s work we a Gandhi laughing at himself.

(Work by Gigi Scaria)

Gigi’s work has D.P.Roy Choudhury’s ‘Dandi March’ as the central image. He cleverly changes the position of Gandhi or the position of the people who follow him, so that they appear to have parted ways at some stage. Gandhi no longer leads people or people no longer follow Gandhi. This understatement is quite satirical and critical.

The man stood before this works for a long time. Then as if he were touching the works with a feather, he moved his fingers towards each Gandhi image touched its feet and then placed the fingers back to his head, an Indian way of suggesting reverence, love and adoration. I saw meditation in his act. He was not aware of the presence of anyone. He was deeply in touch with Gandhi. I looked at him from a distance, then followed him to the corridor outside the gallery and I did not dare to go and ask him why he did so (I thought it would be impinging on his privacy just for the sake of some so called research on audience behavior). I found him a driver to a foreign visitor.

Art means a lot to people, still. Or is it Gandhi?


Somu Desai said...

who say that art in India does not reaches to common people. they have there own way of seeing it but they have there deep concerns with it.
congratulations Johny for witnessing it

LotusEater said...

that work by gigi is brilliant! Thanks for sharing

waswo x. waswo said...

Wonderful story Johny. Sometimes I've encountered the same..people who are not part of the "art crowd", but who actually seem to look closer and think more about what they see than the folks who show up at openings. Would have been wonderful to get this man's interpretation of what he saw, and then compare that to the interpretation of the people he was driving! Would be an interesting comparison..

gayatri said...

great review.its inspirational when a person takes time to come over to see an some way he would have left insipired.
good job on the exhibition.congratulations .

layered said...

the story clearly points out the contrast with art (elitist /intellectual perception) and common man feeling.
Johny, fabulous picture created by you!