Inspired by the lush greenery of his native place Palakkad in Kerala, Baroda-based artist Prasad KP has re-created many of his childhood musings in his wall high canvas Experiment Is Truth, Experience Is Superstition-7 at Palette Art Gallery. A large green landscape is dotted with trees in miniature style and on closer introspection reveals myriad insect-sized stories housed underneath their shadow. A boy swims in a deep blue pond, a woman folds her hands in front of an idol and a middle-aged lady drags two of her cows by a rope. “The work is almost like meditation. It is based on the simpler life led by people in remote areas. I am trying to understand the ultimate way of peaceful living,” says Prasad, 36.
The work accompanies another watercolour that is part of Palette Art Gallery’s relaunch. Owned by designer duo Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, the gallery was first launched in Golf Links in 2001 but shut in 2015. “We had closed for renovation. We wanted to construct a lift to reach the gallery on the second floor but couldn’t get the required permissions from NDMC. Another reason was the sudden demise of my friend Amol Vadehra (art collector) in 2015. Our connection to art was a lot through him,” says Gandhi. It was Manu Parekh’s retrospective that opened last month at the National Gallery of Modern Art (Delhi) that prompted the duo to reopen the gallery. “It brought back the memory of purchasing my first piece, which was his work,” he says. The duo hope that the gallery turns into a space where artists can discuss ideas with the audience. “The market has been investor driven but things are changing and people are buying works because they like them,” says Gandhi.
The comeback exhibition titled ‘Long Story Short’ has works by 11 artists, modern and contemporary. Curator Kanika Anand says, “We wanted to have a show that represented what the gallery is about. It brings together different stories, much like a book of stories with different voices and different styles of expressing a narrative, from mythological tales to historical or those that talk about gender roles and women’s rights.”
So late artist Bhupen Khakhar’s self-portrait Is it Flower (2001), from the gallery collection, is a reflection on his fight with cancer, with lesions and pock marks on his skin. In Gruha Laxmi, a curtain length textile-based mixed media work, artist BV Swetha from Bangalore embroiders the words “responsibility” to celebrate the spirit of womanhood.
Having worked with senior artists such as Subodh Gupta, TV Santosh, Gigi Scaria and Riyas Komu in the past, Gandhi says, “We feel we have the ability to spot talent at an early stage. In 2000, select few had heard of artists such as Atul Dodiya, Riyas Komu, Sudarshan Shetty, GR Iranna and Bharti Kher, a lot of whom were part of our group shows. We want to show artists when they are young, nurture them and then let them move on.” His line-up includes a solo of Binoy Varghese and another of sculptor Rajesh Ram.