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In Memoriam

Friends and fans of painter Tyeb Mehta gathered at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on Friday to share old memories of a reclusive man,“the young dandy of Bombay”,who would tear his canvases in a frenzy when dissatisfied with the work.

Written by RICHA BHATIA |
July 12, 2009 12:03:40 am

Friends and fans of painter Tyeb Mehta gathered at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on Friday to share old memories of a reclusive man,“the young dandy of Bombay”,who would tear his canvases in a frenzy when dissatisfied with the work. The hour-long session,presided by Rajeev Lochan,director of NGMA,was attended by Mehta’s octogenarian contemporaries like Krishen Khanna,Ram Kumar and Satish Gujral. “He was beset with adversity. Sometimes one wondered whether he invited misfortune to his door,” said curator Geeta Kapoor.

When the discussion turned to the intensity of pain in Mehta’s canvases,Gujral saw the influence of the killings Mehta witnessed during the Partition. “But the torture wasn’t moulded by those happenings,” he added. A member of the Progressive Artist Group,Mehta gave the dramatic diagonals in the 1970s — a slanting gash that slices a canvas in two.

NGMA had been planning a retrospective on Mehta’s works since May. The exhibition,now scheduled for winter,will be culled from the archives of NGMA and Vadehra Art Gallery,Ebrahim Alkazi’s personal collection and a Japanese collector. Around 1,000 paintings,starting with the early 1960s,will form the exhibition. “Anyone who knew Tyeb would feel a great loss. He was a man who wore his greatness lightly. He had a very cinematic approach to art just like Hussain,” shared Dalmia. Six oils by the artist dominated the room,alongside his photograph taken in the 1970s by artist Gopi Gajwani. “It was taken in a party thrown by Roshan Alkazi in Delhi and Tyeb was so shy,he wouldn’t even look in the camera,” shared Gajwani.

Others present were gallerist Amit Vadehra,artist Anjolie Ela Menon and Manu Parekh,Vadodara-based artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh,Yuriko Lochan and art critic Rubina Karode.

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First published on: 12-07-2009 at 12:03:40 am

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