A humble offering in the form of a review of the paintings by the celebrated artist V S Gaitonde by the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation at the CSMVS, for the ArtFAct monthly newsletter. This December they complete a year 🙂
The text of the review is given below:
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Lord George Gordon Byron
These words resonated in my mind as I stood before this serene Gaitonde sea. Titled ‘Untitled’, I alternated between feeling like the boat swaying in the current of life, the big blue blob so full of meaning but melting into nothingness and the still waters. Were the waters really so still or were they – like Gaitonde’s mind – turbulent and fathomless but displaying none of it?
Moving from one painting of Gaitonde to another, I felt I was being transported into his mind. Each layer of paint on the large canvases seemed to disclose each layer of his soul and share an intimate conversation between the artist and the viewer. The vivid and deep colours, the figures and objects with no distinct structure, the skilful blending of shades into each other combine into an intoxicating offering by the artist.
Do you also feel a tranquil oneness with nature, as if these paintings were a portal leading you to a different world, somewhere far far away, where there is peace and love, where there are no rigid lines and harsh strokes, where there are no boundaries and limitations, where there is abundance, limitlessness and indulgence of the senses. Where one can just let go and discover oneself. Just like Byron said, “To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”
The artist Vasudeo S Gaitonde was born in Nagpur in 1924. He studied at the JJ School of Art and then became part of the Progressive Art Group (PAG) on invitation by M F Husain and S H Raza. An honoured recipient of the Padma Shri by the Government of India, Gaitonde was also a JD Rockefeller III Fellow in 1964. He had already received the first prize in the Young Asian Artists’ Exhibition, Tokyo, in 1975. He lived and worked in Delhi till his last breath in august 2001. He was highly respected and loved for his work all over the world. Mostly a social recluse, he spent most of his time with his work.
These painting were from the exhibition aptly titled ‘The Silent Observer’ by the Jahangir Nicholson Art Foundation (JNAF) that was held at the CSMVS from 3rd August 2019 for three months. Gaitonde’s works from both the JNAF and the TIFR collections were presented to the public for the first time – what a treat it was. They had poetry sessions, curatorial talks and several discussions as part of the exhibition that brought out the various facets of the artists and his work. Check the link http://jnaf.org/exhibition/v-s-gaitonde/ in case you missed the exhibition. It helps you view the paintings that were on display, making them so accessible. It helps me go back to the paintings through stressful times – they have such an ethereal quality.
Thank you Soma Bhowmik, next review coming up soon 🙂
Text and photo credits: author.