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‘Gaitonde’s painting was a spectator of the ups and downs in our lives’

Dancer Aditi Mangaldas recalls growing up with VS Gaitonde’s 1961 painting, which sold for Rs 39.98 crore last month, setting a new record for Indian art. She and her brother Aditya Mangaldas owned the work


April 4, 2021 6:20:48 am
vs gaitonde, eye 2021, sunday eye, gaitonde painting auction, aditi mangaldas, who was VS Gaitonde, gaitonde artworks, indianexpress,VS Gaitonde's Untitled, 1961; oil on canvas, 50x80 inches (Courtesy: Saffronart)

Aditi Mangaldas

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Things of beauty, wherever they are, are things of beauty. I think one has to be involved in seeing that beauty rather than feeling that it is a possession. This painting has given my family great joy and now that it has moved on, as it should, it will enrich the lives, the home, wherever it goes.

I have grown up with this painting. It was acquired by my parents (Devyani and Harshavadan Mangaldas) from VS Gaitonde when I was two years old (in 1962). My mother’s cousin Asit Chandmal was a good friend of Gaitonde and it is he who insisted that my parents come to the Bhulabhai Desai Memorial Institute in Bombay and see this work at his studio. My mother tells me Gaitonde did not speak much during their visit but they loved the canvas, and since then it had become a part of our home in Ahmedabad. It used to be in my parent’s bedroom at first, and later, in a casual dining room for nearly four decades. After the passing of my father in 1999, it came to my home in Delhi.

vs gaitonde, eye 2021, sunday eye, gaitonde painting auction, aditi mangaldas, who was VS Gaitonde, gaitonde artworks, indianexpress, Aditi Mangaldas dances Kathak at Darbar Festival 2017 at Sadler’s Wells, London. (Credits: Rehmat Rayatt)

We had many, many interesting people coming to our homes and the painting was a silent but extremely beautiful and powerful spectator of all the happenings in our family, the ups and downs in our lives. It is something that informed our aesthetic landscape while I was growing up in Ahmedabad.

To me, initially it was an intriguing beautiful splash of colour, an ocean of blues with this incredible red dot. I used to wonder what is the broken black square on the side. As a child, I remember trying to find my own narratives. When I was exploring my own passion for dance, it intrigued me as to what goes on in an artist’s mind, how does a thought, a sound, a colour, poetry or a word or concept in an artist’s head transform into paint and canvas. And what kind of utter immersion is required to transform these intangible aspects into this amazing tangible yet mysterious piece of art. These questions became a part of my journey, and, subconsciously, have influenced my dance journey, too, as I’d constantly question myself about my intention: “Why do I do a particular movement?” “Why am I in a circle when I’m dancing?” or “Why do I wear blue with a tint of green?”

As told to Vandana Kalra

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