Nandita Desai’s Ode to Abandoned Houses | PERFECT WOMAN MAGAZINE
Multi-award-winning artist Nandita Desai is sure to take art connoisseurs in the city on a nostalgia trip with her upcoming show. Titled The Stone and the Brick, the exhibition will be held from March 13 to 19, at the prestigious Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda. She will showcase approximately 25 paintings with a common subject – 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 that will be showcased 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. My 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,” explains Desai. Although the artist has primarily used Black, White and Sepia tones to highlight the vintage character of the old houses, there are a few colourful ones as well. Stark as it may seem at the first glance, yet there is a sense of optimism at the core of Desai’s works. It looks as though these abandoned structures come out alive and become ‘homes’ from ‘houses’ again!
For the artist, to get the right subject for her paintings was no cakewalk. “I travelled through Mumbai, Khandala and Lonavala to find the right kind of houses for my Art. Though most interesting buildings and homes were under redevelopment, I did manage to get photos of some houses and then painted them on canvas. I have been shooed out of old homes by the security and I’ve been chased by dogs and hens. I have even encountered a bat!” But this did not deter Desai’s spirit. “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, Desai was inspired by Prafulla Dahanukar when the former lived in the same neighbourhood as the veteran artist at ML Dahanukar Marg. Ergo, it is a matter of pride for Desai, when many moons later, she was conferred upon the Prafulla Dahanukar Foundation Award for being the Best Emerging Artist (2013). Having studied for a PHD in History, Desai eventually returned to her calling and penchant for Art, and has, since then, exhibited in India and the world-over. Although, Desai 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, Desai 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. Interestingly, she has also used barks of trees for some of her paintings.
What’s more is that a part of the sale proceeds from the show will go for charity towards Make-A-Wish Foundation of India. Make-A-Wish Foundation of India is a public charitable trust that grants the wishes of children diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, in the age group of 3 to 18 years, to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
This exhibition is the door to a beautiful world that Nandita Desai has created with her inimitable artistry. Yours is to check out Nandita Desai’s The Stone and the Brick at Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, from 13th March – 19th March, 2023.
BY JYOTHI VENKATESH
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