Of Year Endings and Beginnings… with Art!

Date : 5th Feb 2023 | Text & Images by :- Samira Sheth

Art on carpets… art to celebrate 75 years of independence… art from Goa in Delhi… lots of art to end the old and bring in the New Year! Enjoy this visual feast!

An unusual art and design exhibit – Floored by Art presented selected paintings by an array of Indian Masters and contemporary artists woven by expert weavers on carpets! Going beyond art on canvas, the art carpet project curated by Sunil Sethi Design Alliance in collaboration with Aguada opened on December 29th at Aguada Central Jail in Sinquerim. The stunning venue, the old jail converted into a spanking new cultural space, proudly displayed these detailed and finely woven carpets to full effect.

Paintings by Manjit Bawa, MF Husain, Jehangir Sabavala, SH Raza, Ram Kumar, Paresh Maity, Jayashri Burman, Manu Parekh, T Vaikuntam and contemporaries including Sujata Bajaj, Thukral & Tagra, Bose Krishnamachari were translated into fine wool by skilled artisans in this breathtaking display. The paintings for the project have been authorized and certified by the artists and their family members and each work has been reproduced onto the carpet in a limited edition.

Each carpet, a work of art in its own right, could be displayed on the floor (except a beautiful Krishna by the late Manjit Bawa) or hung up on the wall. Brought to Goa by Sunil Sethi, President of the Fashion Design Council of India, the exhibition with its startling change of medium and material really floored its audience!

The Rotary Club Panaji Riviera  presented a show spanning 75 years of India’s Independence through artworks by artists in Goa. Held at the ESG Complex in conjunction with the Serendipity Arts Festival 2022, the exhibition was an artistic celebration of Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and was inaugurated by Goa CM Dr Pramod Sawant with the highly awarded photographer and filmmaker Anu Malhotra as Chief Guest. Thematically guided by noted senior artist Professor Hanuman Kambli, each artist got one year in the last 75 years of India’s Independence to interpret in their own way. Rajashree Thakker for instance employed mixed media in her evocative work on the year she received- 1953. She portrayed Jhansi Ki Rani and textured the work with elements resembling the strength of armour, the strength of women. In 1953, India’s first technicolour film, Jhansi ki Rani was released, Vijaylakshmi Pandit was elected as the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.

In 1997, KR Narayanan was sworn in as the 10th President and the first member of the Dalit community to hold this office; Mother Teresa died; Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian origin woman to go to space; India’s first electric car Reva was launched. Artist Sonia Sabharwal was inspired by some of these achievements in her dreamy yet carefully constructed work.

Each artist drew inspiration from the significant achievements in the year they received to work with and it was really interesting to see how far we have come as a country; how much we need to celebrate and remember and perhaps work on to further and improve in this inspiring exhibition.

From Goa to Delhi…with love

A show of Goa’s gifted artists travelled to Delhi in the New Year to turn the national spotlight on an oft ignored trajectory of Indian art. Goa is known for its beaches and nightlife, for its laidback susegad vibe but its art and artists rarely enter the conversation on a national scale despite some of India’s top artists come from Goa including FN Souza and Gaitonde.

The exhibition Short Stories from Goa, curated by Ryan Semelhago and Samira Sheth, took eight Goa based artists from Goa to Delhi to tell their stories at the private gallery Art Explore as part of India Art Fair Parallel. Diverse in age, medium, style and practice, each artist shares their own unique story, told visually in colour and tone, idiom and imagination on canvas and paper, in watercolour or acrylics. The 8 Participating Artists from Goa include Antonio E Costa, Shilpa Nashnolkar, Darpan Kaur, Shripad Gurav, Suhas Shilker, Viraj Naik, Norman Tagore & Manjunath Naik.

Internationally renowned painter Antonio E Costa condenses the multitude of diverse cultures he has experienced into stories told through abstract expressionism. The polyglot artist has lived across continents and his canvases pulsate with that vibrant gypsy energy. Shripad and Shilpa, Viraj, Norman and Manjunath embark on their artistic adventures with a panoply of intriguing characters – both strange and familiar, telling their tales in diverse languages.  Abstractionists Suhas Shilker and Darpan Kaur have distinctively different approaches. The senior artist, Suhas builds on the three notes dominant in the ancient Vedic chants in his layered canvases, resonant with both sound and silence. Darpan plays with splashes of colour to create narratives that charm, pulling one into her happy place, making the world a little more enchanting and uncommon.

These eight Goa based artists bring together character, plot, setting and tension, holding everything in fine balance to tell their own deeply felt stories that cross over borders of the imagination and connect  us all through their startling visual impact.

“Everyone is longing for the ‘mood’ of Goa,” says Co Curator Samira Sheth. “And this exhibition is a way for everybody to experience or immerse themselves in that mood.”

Short Stories from Goa is also an endeavour to help shape viewer perspective of Goan art and robustly place it on a national art landscape and within a larger discourse.

“Considering some of India’s top artists come from Goa and are collected by museums abroad– FN Souza, VS Gaitonde, Angelo da Fonseca among them, and have left behind such a substantial legacy -it is a shame that the highly complex and finely nuanced School of Goan art (we have the Bengal School, the Baroda School but no distinctive Goan School despite one of the finest art colleges in the country and such distinguished artists) goes unrecognised and pretty much does not exist.    

“This one of its kind art exhibition with contemporary artists based in Goa showing in Delhi promises to be an insightful bridge to this immeasurable legacy,” continues Samira.

Adds Co Curator Ryan Semelhago, “Short stories from Goa hopes to take Goan art to a larger audience across India and the sub-continent. This exhibition is the first in a planned series.

‘The Goan School of Art’ has produced masters such as, Antonio Trinidade, VS Gaitonde and FN Souza, amongst others, who have paved the way for future generations of Goan artists. Goan art is vibrant and alive; and now, it’s time to help it evolve and establish itself globally.”

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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