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Remembering Haku Shah: New exhibition pays homage to Gandhian artist

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Paintings depicting a bespectacled Gandhi and the charkha, terracotta figurines sourced from Gujarat and 'Bapu's Bag' made of a special handmade paper called 'kalamkhush'.

The late artist Haku Shah's deep connect with Gandhi and Gandhism is being showcased at an exhibition, "Iss ghat antar baag bagiche" (In this vessel lie groves and gardens), that was unveiled at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) here Sunday evening.

The exhibition of art and artefacts created and procured by Shah also pays homage to the reticent figurative painter and cultural anthropologist who grew up in an environment inspired by Gandhian thoughts and philosophy.

The artist, who was fondly known as Haku Bhai, died at the age of 85 on March 21 this year.

The award-winning artist set up Shilpgram in Udaipur in Rajasthan in the 1980s, the first of its kind Crafts Village in the country.

Enter the KNMA and a huge picture of Shah standing next to his prized collection of terracotta idols welcomes the visitor. Look lower and there are the figurines -- deities and horses -- next to a written description of 'Stages of making Horse' from his work, "Form and many forms of Mother Clay".

Next in line are paintings, textile scrolls, books, journals, periodicals -- around 80 in total -- showcasing art in various mediums.

"The exhibition brings together works from several series and a few are being exhibited for the first time," said KNMA senior curator Akansha Rastogi.

"It includes his collaboration with musician and vocalist Shubha Mudgal which resulted in the exhibition 'Haman hain Ishq' (2002), the other series being 'Noor Gandhi Ka Maeri Nazar Main' (1997), 'Nitya Gandhi/Living Reliving Gandhi' (2004) and 'Maanush' (2007) that reflects on humanism, embodiment and disciplined pursuit of Gandhian values... ," Rastogi said.

Shah was well-known for his efforts in bridging the differences between high art and tribal craft. He was hugely inspired by Gandhi's idea of modernity, an influence reflected in his work that revolved around Gandhi and his beliefs.

He also brought to the fore India's rich tribal art, promoting indigenous languages, depicting environment and more.

Son Parthiv, a photographer, walked to a painting of Gandhi when asked to point out his favourite. The oil on canvas shows three brooms and a taqli (spindle) hung between them.

"My father was a Gandhian all his life. And Gandhian thoughts together with human values are things they have brought out in this exhibition too.

"For example, look at this painting. These are Gandhi's symbols that talk about self-reliance and the importance of cleanliness ... the very swacchta that we so often talk about these days," he told PTI.

The exhibition is open for public viewing till January 10.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 09 2019. 17:55 IST