Art Appreciator Nina Rege Reflects On Late Painter John Fernandes Whose Soulful Works Were Displayed At Worli

Art Appreciator Nina Rege Reflects On Late Painter John Fernandes Whose Soulful Works Were Displayed At Worli

Earlier this January, John's artistic brilliance was exhibited at the Nehru Centre Art Gallery in Worli, Mumbai. Nina Rege, Assistant Director of the city-based art gallery reflects on the late master painter John Fernandes and the recent exhibition

Swarna SrikanthUpdated: Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 03:14 PM IST
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It is said that an artist never dies as their artworks live forever and continue to inspire people. One such personality is the voracious painter John Fernandes whose passion and first love was nothing else but art, who would sometimes forget food and water to work on his paintings.

In a recent exhibition held in Mumbai, the Maharashtra-born artist who passed away in 2007 was remembered through his evocative pieces blending skill, sensitivity, innocence, and sensuality. 

John's artistic brilliance was exhibited at the Nehru Centre Art Gallery in Worli. Nina Rege, Assistant Director of the popular art gallery in the city connects with Free Press Journal reflecting her thoughts on the late master painter John Fernandes, his soulful portraits, and how this exhibition pays tribute to him. 

Nina Rege, Assistant Director of the Nehru Centre Art Gallery in Worli, Mumbai

Nina Rege, Assistant Director of the Nehru Centre Art Gallery in Worli, Mumbai | YouTube

Read Excerpts Below

Congratulations on marking the 29th retro of Indian Masters. What made you theme the exhibition this year on the Retrospective of John Fernandes? 

Yes, we have been doing it for the last 28 years aiming to introduce the younger generation to the artists who are no more with their works which can never be forgotten.

It is not only John Fernandes. It is not about a particular person. At the gallery, we have been exhibiting the works of people who have passed away by bringing them from the museum and private collectors, art schools, and their families.

Every year we go with an artist whose work is liked by people. And those who have not been too exposed. We feel that every artist should be exposed to the students. This time I thought of having John Fernandes on the retro of Indian Masters.

What's your word about the late artist’s creations? 

John’s subjects and his way of depicting the subject (of the painting) are very soft. His work is not absolutely like harsh brushes.

Self-portraits are absolutely good. He does female figures also. He was strong on realistic illustrations of figures, but never went great with trees. His work is based on different kinds such as sketches, water colours. And he was strong with figures, actually a master in it. 

Depicting sensuality through paintings and artworks: Is it more difficult and abstract than bringing out some other subject on the frame?

It's not difficult at all.

Each artist has their study right from the beginning. They decide if they want to do an abstract, realistic or landscape and search for it. If one does watercolours, the person searches on those lines. It depends on the person’s interest and likeness. 

Here, every year we have different Indian masters, there can be sensual subjects or it can be sculptures in different mediums. It is not only metal, or woodwork. It is always different. 

Does the exhibition touch the young audience, as you aim to see them getting inspired? 

People, including students and young artists, from Pune, Sangli, Kolhapur, and different places in Maharashtra visited the exhibition and saw John's works. Everyone liked his work displayed at our gallery.

Rege concluded by expressing what art means to her and said, “Art is whatever you have in your mind, you display it by putting it on paper or canvas or any other medium of showcasing the art.” 

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