Over the last few years, armed with wine glasses and itr bottles, Delhi-based artist Tauseef Khan has placed these objects on a table in front of the country’s architectural marvels, reminiscent of a bygone era. After capturing the view, as seen through the glass layer on his camera, he would return and paint, with photographic precision, his photographs of the monuments. Khan has painted the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri Fort, Laxmi Vilas Palace and Amer Fort in varying shapes, sizes and colours in his latest exhibition ‘Reflections in Time’ on at Palette Art Gallery. “My paintings are all about how we view history through the prism of today. The wine glasses are a metaphor of how we get to know people and view the world and the past,” says Khan, 38.
Born and raised in Delhi, it is not a surprise to spot the Mughal monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in his show. “These places bring back certain memories for me while I was growing up. In front of them I create a scheme of glassware which extracts the image of the monument and turns it into a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes,” he says. His oil on canvas, Jaswant Thada Reflection, highlights the grandeur of Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph in Jodhpur built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II, and now a cremation ground for the royal family of Marwar. Among his 15 works on display is Sheesh Mahal Reflection -VII, as seen through itr bottles, paying an ode to the intricate mirror work of the glass palace of Jaipur. The patterns of flowers and vases are a swift reminder of hearing popular tales woven around it, including how one candle was enough to light up the entire hall.
Khan has lent an Indian touch to the vanitas paintings, a genre of still-life paintings that became popular in Netherlands in the 16th and 17th century, which featured a collection of objects like skulls, rotten fruits and watches, hinting at the transient nature of life. These were placed in front of contrasting images of wealth like wine bottles or coins to highlight the vanity of earthly possessions. “I’m inspired by the style. I picked up wine glasses from there and created my own style,” he says.
Having grown up in the Lal Kuan area of Old Delhi, Khan has always been surrounded by the historical beauty of the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Ajmeri Gate and the Kashmere Gate, among others. He points out how these monuments were his favourite subjects to paint as a child and the fascination has only grown.
The exhibition is on till November 15 at 14, Golf Links.