Today, I’m in an attempt to find myself. I take a metro ride and reach Mandi House. Raja bhaiya’s chai is awaiting me. But, unfortunately, he wasn’t there today at the tea stall. An art piece with chalk was drawn on his counter. Is the Universe giving me signs again? I checked how far is the National Gallery of Modern Art. It showed 20 minutes walking.
Mandi House has a very serene feeling to it, the energies are filled with artists, actors, theatre, art, revolution. I kept walking straight, passing through Doordarshan Bhawan, Kamani Auditorium, LTG and reached the chowk. I took a left towards Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and on my right is India Gate. National Gallery of Modern Art is here, the guard asks me to fill an entry form. I walk-in. The ticket is ₹25 for Indians.
‘National Gallery has an exhibit of Zamin by the great MF Hussain too.’ tells Raj ji.
The moment I enter the 3 storey-white walled galleries, aesthetically pleasing wooden-frames catch my attention. The art came very late, because I was in a dilemma of what to see first, the lower ground floor or the upper ground floor. As I took a step forward, the Art Gallery welcomed me with a statue of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Firstly, I went downstairs to meet the artists from the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group through their art. Artworks of FN Souza, K.H. Ara, M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, S. K Bakre and friends, took me through the Indian form of modernism. I saw modern people clicking modern art through their modern forms of technology. Now, the artwork is in their mobile phones. So, is in mine.
As I walked ahead, some installations provoked my thoughts, took me to a world far away from my imagination and made me decipher the ideas behind it.
Then I went upstairs and was welcomed by Amrita Shergil’s self-portraits. This time I couldn’t find her artwork, ‘The Storyteller’. Then Raj ji told me, ‘it has been shifted to some other exhibition.’ Out of curiosity I asked, ‘How is it that they have so many classic artworks and keep on changing them?’
‘It is a national treasure and a lot of it sir’ he responds. He takes me towards the new artworks. Mother Teresa by MF Hussain, paintings by Abindranath Tagore, Woman Holding a fruit by Raja Ravi Varma. He told me to go see some artwork upstairs too. There I found Jamini Roy’s classic artworks. MF Pithawala looked like an Indian Vinecent Van-Gogh to me.
And out of all, Nandalal Bose’s art spoke of keeping the historic arc alive through his art. A transformation over years, treasuring the artist’s paradise in this modern world at the National Gallery of Modern Art, I reached to the top floor, there was an installation with a tag Gujral 74. A small mirror was placed on all sides. I saw myself in the mirror. Mirrors for me aren’t an illusion, I feel it’s real. I felt I’m a minute part of every artwork, I might be the sky, or a paint brush in Indian Van Gogh’s, the horse in MF Hussain’s paintings. But, I guess I’m still lost.
I’m lost in one of Amrita Shergil’s painting ‘The Storyteller’ and it isn’t here. It was here long ago, but now it isn’t. I was me long ago, but... Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/manankathuria/ Thank you for being a part of my journey :')