Cross Connection

Cross Connection

Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper gets a bright makeover with traditional Indian motifs in Madhvi Parekh’s exhibition

MF Husain painted it against the red desert,with angels and camels serving the lord. Jamini Roy infused it with elements of folk and almond-eyed Jesus and Krishen Khanna had a wounded Christ and his seemingly dejected disciples. When Madhvi Parekh decided to paint her interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper,she replaced the somber portrayal of Jesus and his disciples with bright attires on a table decorated with flowers. Drapes and wall paintings occupy the backdrop,complete with bread and wine. “I’ve taken the concept from the original,but it’s something that describes my art,something more Indian. After all god is one,and we give different names,” says the Delhi-based artist.

At the Visual Arts Gallery,her exhibition “The Last Supper” is a departure from the Renaissance artist’s famous work. The trigger was a visit to Yad Vashem in Israel in 2006. “I saw the Holocaust memorial and it was gruesome to see the images. I also saw people crying at the Unction Stone,where Christ’s body was laid for anointment. After all the brutality when I saw a calm and beautiful portrait of Christ,I knew I had to paint him. That was followed by some portraits of Jesus,” says Parekh,“It was a visit to Italy couple of years back that led me to paint The Last Supper. I saw Leonardo’s work,which was magnificent,it was divine intervention that prompted me to paint it in my style.”

The exhibit has Jesus and his disciples closer home in a more Indian setting. The sun and the stars often hover around them and birds make frequent appearances on the reverse paintings on acrylic. Parekh refers to Christ’s birth in a stable when she surrounds him with animals,from goats and horses to snakes and fish swimming in water. Known for her portrayal of strong Indian women,including Durga and Kali,Parekh says in this series,Mother Mary fills that space. “She was also bold and strong,” says the self-trained artist who began taking interest in art in 1964,when she was pregnant. Husband Manu Parekh imparted her the basic lessons,which led Madhvi to find her own oeuvre. “We are very different in art and otherwise,but we’ve managed well till now,” she says,as she confesses of being unsure about her next set of works. “There might be more works with Jesus,I can’t be sure,” she says.

The exhibition is on at Visual Arts Gallery,India Habitat Centre,till September 7. Contact:41220000