Home, is a beautiful word that evokes an emotion of togetherness and family. But when these homes are abandoned they are nothing but structures made of brick and sand with no emotions, unless an artist like Nandita Desai breathes life into them with her imagination. The ongoing exhibition titled The Stone and the Brick at Jehangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda takes you on a nostalgic trip through 25 different paintings on singular subject called Houses.
The artist, who took around six months to put the exhibit together, sought inspiration from her own life to depict the importance of the house on canvas. She says, “I have lived in a dozen different homes in my life and each has left an indelible mark on my subconscious.”
Interestingly, the houses shown in her artwork are mostly dilapidated or uninhabited. “Homes to me represent memories, feelings, nostalgia, and a sense of belonging. Their shadowy interiors are the essence of beauty to me. The sense of timelessness is innate in very old, abandoned homes, cities and structures. These thoughts found their voice when I read Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk,” says the multi-award winning artist adding that her paintings are inspired by his deeply philosophical concept of hüzün (Turkish: melancholy), that intangible feeling of the past, of nostalgia, of beauty, of history, tinged with a little sadness.
“The hüzün of Istanbul is what I wanted to showcase through my Art,” Nandita explains.
With black, white and sepia tones, the artist highlights the vintage character of the old houses. There are some colourful houses as well blending with the natural tones of India's diversity.
Stark as it may seem at the first glance, Nandita's artwork shows a sense of optimism at the core – making these abandoned structures coming out alive and becoming ‘homes’ from ‘houses’ again.
The subjects of her paintings, we learn, have come from the artist's intensive travel to Mumbai, Khandala and Lonavala. She says that most interesting buildings and homes were under redevelopment, “But I did manage to get photos of some houses and then painted them on canvas.” Not just that, she also shares that during her visit to these homes, at times, she was shooed out of old homes by the security and chased by dogs and hens. “I have even encountered a bat. Now I go armed with dog treats, some money, and a big torch to take photos of now unloved homes!” she quips.
Having held a brush in her hand since childhood, Nandita was inspired by Prafulla Dahanukar when the former lived in the same neighbourhood as the veteran artist at ML Dahanukar Marg. Although, she is a largely self-taught artist, she has received formal training at UAL, London. In her early days, she studied Art under the tutelage of Mr.Vinchurkar in Khandala, and is currently mentored by ace artist and Art curator Mr.Satyendra Rane.
In her current show, Nandita has used a variety of mixed media materials, including gesso, oils, water colours, acrylics, stucco, gel, distress strains, re-inkers, pastels, crayons, ceramic and modelling paste. She has also used barks of trees for some of her oils.
A part of the sale proceeds from the show will go for charity towards Make-A-Wish Foundation of India, which grants wishes of children diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, in the age group of 3 to 18 years.
Ongoing till March 19
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