Inside the art gallery at the India International Centre (IIC), Delhi, a woman in a sari nurtures India’s pluralist discourse, seen in the figures on her pallu. “We all live in the pallu of the same homeland,” says artist Shakti Maira. Maira’s suite of ink paintings titled “Mother India and Her Sons” depict the tensions that emerged during the Babri Masjid–Ram Janmabhoomi incident of 1992. Delhi-based Maira’s exhibition “Formed Resonance” comes at a time when the Supreme Court on Monday expressed concern over the delay in the trial of the people involved in the demolition of the masjid. “I don’t think my art is a political statement, rather it is a response to a divisive political strategy. We have not served Gandhiji’s vision,” says Maira, 70. Known for his Buddhism-inspired spiritual works, his work has been showcased widely for over four decades.
The exhibition, which is a collection of Maira’s previous works, includes sculptures and figure drawings. There are drawings from his days at New Hampshire, when he would visit the New Hampshire Artists’ Association and hone his skills in figure drawing. “Most of this time was spent in doing one-minute, two-minute or five-minute studies of models. The idea was to visually grasp the essentials and render them with a flowing fluency,” he says, in his note. In the show are also charcoal drawings celebrating Delhi’s music scene. Then there are bronze sculptures called “The Sufis” which evoke the idea of unity, similarity and otherness.
Maira, known for his columns on art and beauty in leading magazines and newspapers, will be launching his book The Promise of Beauty and Why it Matters, on March 10 at IIC. In it, one finds Maira in conversation with philosophers, painters, dancers, neuroscientists, and politicians.