Mahatma: Self or Nation? Artists capture Gandhi's legacy at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi

Art Heritage, an art gallery hosting a multi-disciplinary exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi, opens with a peculiar image: a Gandhi 'impersonator' standing in an Indian school.

author_img Jai S Published :  03rd June 2019 03:25 PM   |   Published :   |  03rd June 2019 03:25 PM
Cop Shiva, Being Gandhi 23, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White paper, 24 x 16.5 ins. (Source: Art Heritage Gallery)

Cop Shiva, Being Gandhi 23, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White paper, 24 x 16.5 ins. (Source: Art Heritage Gallery)

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS): Art Heritage, an art gallery hosting a multi-disciplinary exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi, opens with a peculiar image: a Gandhi 'impersonator' standing in an Indian school as stunned children look on. The message? 'Performing' Gandhi's physical presence to reinforce his thoughts.

The image is from the exhibition titled "Mahatma: Self or Nation?", which displays photographs, paintings, woodcuts, sculptures and videos. 

The show, which closes on Friday before reopening for the whole of July, analyses Gandhi's legacy and philosophy as India enters a new chapter in her long and diverse history. It is currently open at the Triveni Kala Sangam here.

In his 'Being Gandhi' photo series, photographer Cop Shiva captures Bagadehalli Basavaraju, a small town schoolteacher and a staunch believer in Gandhian ideals as the latter ‘replicates' Gandhi, as we have seen him.

Seen smeared in silver paint and donning appropriate costumes and props, Basavaraju's effort is at 'performing' Gandhi as a physical presence. "Walking through the town, he halts at street corners and local schools where crowds gather to listen to him imparting Gandhi's teachings," the Gallery said.

It added: Basavaraju feels it is important to reinforce Gandhi's ideals not only through repeating his words but recognising that the sheer power of physical presence is an effective means of communicating Gandhi's philosophy to his fellow people.
 

Suresh Punjabi, Studio Suhag, 1985, Fine art paper, 16 x 16 ins. (Source: Art Heritage Gallery)



Artist Jagadeesh Tammineni's "The Birth of a Nation" woodcut series depicts Gandhi as a master craftsman working to assemble together a nation as he works to perfect India's most recognisable symbols -- the cow, the tiger and the peacock.
 

Suresh Punjabi, Studio Suhag, 1985, Fine art paper, 16 x 16 ins. (Source: Art Heritage Gallery)



As seen in the tiger woodcut, the inner workings of India are complex and interconnected, just like in real life. Ronney Sen also captures the Satyagraha spirit of Gandhi in his photographs of a Jadavpur University protest.
 

Jagdeesh Tammineni, The Birth Of A Nation - 1, Woodcut print on Paper, 36_ x 48 ins, 2017. (Source: Art Heritage Gallery)



Another wall dedicated to photographs, 'Studio Suhag' shows a more aspirational India where Suresh Punjabi has shown common people flocking to photography studios to take images.

In addition to the artworks, visitors can see episodes of TV mini-series 'Raj Se Swaraj', directed by gallery head Amal Allana, that aired on Doordarshan in the mid-1980s. The episodes show the Gandhi-Broomfield trial of mid-1920s.

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