Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Encapsulating Jehangir Nicholson's passion for art

After his wife’s death, Jehangir Nicholson found succor in art and his attachment with paintings filled a personal vacuum created after his wife’s death. This feeling was quite palpable in the way he chose to address his works, using terms of romanticized love, at times. The first canvas he acquired cost him Rs. 500. It was ‘A Scenery’ by Sharad Waykool, which he spotted at the Taj Art Gallery.

He gradually began visiting the Chemould and Pundole art galleries on a more regular basis, and was introduced to young painter Laxman Shreshtha (just 24 year old then) by the founder of Pundole, Kali Pundole. This was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. His collection gradually became archival in nature. A key indicator of its intrinsic value is reflected in two of Souza’s milestone works – ‘Mammon’ (1961) and ‘Death of the Pope’ (1962) – that belonged to him. He actively engaged with his collection and loved discussing the coveted possessions in great detail and depth, facets that are inherent to a genuine and committed collector.

In its endeavor to take art to masses, the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery has hosted thematic exhibitions. The latest one, entitled 'Nothing is Absolute: A Journey through Abstraction', brings together the collective narratives of abstract art. Conceptualized by Mehlli Gobhai and cultural theorist Ranjit Hoskote, the collaboration is based on long term conversations and discussions the two have shared over the last twenty years. The walls of the gallery, present the different philosophies and sources of inspiration for abstract artists as well provides chronological depth as they link ancient practices, theologies and structures that have inspired abstract artists in different ways.

The Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation curator, Kamini Sawhney, has been quoted as saying:  “The exhibition is a rather unorthodox account of the various strands, which make up the rich history of abstractionism in art that has evolved out of a continual dialogue between Hoskote and Gobhai, leading to a collaboration through that the two bring together the fascinating experiences of the studio, the library the gallery, the museum, and the archive they both have had across three continents.”

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