Traditional yet contemporary art

Last week's roundup covers a collection of photographs by Shahid Datawala and paintings by Pratima Mulani.

Tasveer, the photo-art gallery in Sua House on Kasturba Cross Road, showcased a collection of photographs by Shahid Datawala, from 28th February to 10th March. Datawala, who lives and works in Mumbai, is the chief designer for Pallate, a furniture design store in Mumbai.

The show was based on and inspired by Hauntology — a revolutionary idea introduced by Jacques Derrida in his 1993 work Spectres of Marx. The idea suggests that the present exists only with respect to the past, and that society, after the end of history, will begin to orient itself towards ideas and aesthetics that are thought of as rustic, bizarre or old-time. According to Tasveer, ‘Datawala treats the phantom-like presence of these recent ruins or architectural debris as a hauntological proposition that is steadying its jab in the sweltering wings and waiting to be recalled.’

Stairways by Shahid Datawala

Stairways by Shahid Datawala (Pic courtesy: Tasveer gallery)

Datawala’s pictures are of old, ruined and abandoned buildings of Mumbai. Though all the photos are extraordinary, a few are worthy of special mention. Such as the two photographs that depict the comparison between a newly constructed stairway and an abandoned stairway. The graffiti on an abandoned building wall is another exceptional piece. The open window of an old villa and the entrance of an old house are some of the other pictures that remind us of the good old times. The beauty and absorbing factor of these photographs lies in the two-tone used, for black and white photos can bring in a feeling of loneliness like nothing else. Without doubt, the best way to see life at its simplest is in black and white.

Shahid Datawala

Shahid Datawala (Pic courtesy: Tasveer gallery)

It is inspiring to see artists recording the changes that modernisation has brought about. We could use someone like Shahid Datawala to record the changes happening in namma Bengaluru too.

Traditional yet contemporary art

Pratima Mulani, an artist from Bengaluru, held an exhibition of her paintings at Pratima’s Art Gallery on MG Road, from 28th February to 10th March.

After acquiring a formal training in Fine Arts, Mulani specialised in Tanjore paintings, using pure gold and gem stones. She also took up abstract and figurative paintings. Mulani, who has conducted exhibitions in different cities of India, is an artist whose paintings show a fine blend of the traditional and contemporary. The subjects which she generally works on are landscapes depicting light and shades, ‘Chiaroscuro’ type of night scenes employing the play of light in darkness and portraits.

Pratima Mulani with the 'Musician' series

Pratima Mulani with the ‘Musician’ series (Pic courtesy: Pratima Mulani)

Mulani’s uniqueness lies in her creative use of Tanjore art, with beads and stones on abstract work. This combination gives a whole new feel, akin to fusion music. The paintings of a butterfly and a sleeping Buddha, using this fusion concept, are brilliant. The end result is a very ethnic and Indian feel. Mulani’s abstract art is equally striking, with new techniques and strokes. There were some interesting silhouettes too, painted within mirror frames, which incidentally, look like the ones from ancient Europe. Another fascinating collection was a series of paintings of Buddha. The colour combination used and the artist’s brush strokes give the paintings a special, stark character.

Pratima’s Art Gallery is Mulani’s own as she believes in encouraging upcoming artists.

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