His head hangs low as he rests kneeling on his knees. Though crafted out of fiberglass and acrylic, he still conveys a feeling of surrender, of resignation to fate. This sculpture made by Goan artist Vaibhava Kitlekar rests on a wooden coffin and is called Vedic Handicap. Part of an exhibition titled “Balcao”, the piece is rich with interpretations from Goan history.
“The hands of the kneeling man aren’t completely done. It’s like they were chopped off when the Portuguese ships came to Goa and the population had to choose between conversion to Christianity and losing their lands,” says Subodh Kerkar, a contributing artist as well as the exhibition’s curator, The exhibition, through the work of 14 contemporary artists and about six pieces by FN Souza, focuses on the lasting effects the Portuguese have had on Goan culture. In Shripad Gurav’s canvas, fisherwomen in Konkani drapes stand hawking their prized catches to women in dresses, shedding light on the change in clothing that came along with those ships. Similarly in Chaitali Morajkar’s canvas, there is the miniature portrayal of two women sharing a sofa. Called Mrs Kamath, Mrs D’Souza, it shows Mrs Kamath in a sari, while Mrs D’Souza sits comfortable, nude. The term ‘‘balcao” after which the show is named, is a reference to the balcony-style of architecture that swept across Goa after the Portuguese landed, in quiet defiance to the traditional courtyard-in-the centre-of the house kind of set-up. In Kalidas Mhamal’s detailed drawings, Vasco da Gama’s entry into Goa, on May 20, 1498 is highlighted among other historical dates, while Julio D’Souza has presented Goan governors with his signature iconic figuration. Kerkar, often dubbed as India’s “land artist”, also showcases his 3D indigo series at the show.
“Balcao” is on at Dhoomimal Gallery, Connaught Circus, till April 15. Contact: 41516056