Wednesday, September 30, 2009

National Gallery of Modern Indian Art, New Delhi

Print of Jamini Roy's Mother and Child

One of the better maintained websites with ease of navigation and information plus images of the collections

Hosted in the beautiful Jaipur House in Delhi, the NGMIA was undergoing extensive renovations during the summer of 2009 when I visited. The Museum opens at 10 am.The  India Gate is across the street, if you negotiate the road circle and hop across the grass lawns of the India Gate.

The original wing was closed  and the collections were in the new wing, inaugrated by Sonia Gandhi in January 2009.
The new wing has been constructed  in keeping with the old building.
Screeching sounds of tile polishers, strong smell of polish and paint in the upper levels of  the first building.

The old banyan tree on the way to the 'canteen' is one of the most beautiful 'living' features  on the grounds among the scattered art works.

The new building is well organised and the staff was helpful and courteous. One can have a locker with a key to put in the bag. Photography and videos are not allowed.
Loud bustling entry of the cleaning crew in blue and strange contrast between the luminous displays and the mundane conversations echoing across the canvas space.

Peace and solitude with only art for company.
Few visitors but a glass polisher peeping from outside the french window.

Yellow upholstered sofas, stained on close-up.
View of the Jamini Roy prints in the Museum Shop through the glass and Nandlal Bose's enchanting works in the ground level and as the eye travels upwards, one catches glimpses of Modern Indian Art through the years...

Abhanindranath Tagore, Shanthiniketan artists: Nandlal Bose's works arranged in the lower level are 
among the best in museum displays/organization. 

Favourites among others: 
Bose's Haripura Posters and postcard pictures in pen and pencil.

And then one walks back up to see the European Colonial Artists- The Company School
Not so much enamoured!

The Tanjore and Mysore paintings have been juxtaposed between two different periods and felt a little strange and out of place.

The Miniature paintings also felt forlorn, as in the National Museum ... in comparison to the jewels that India lost to what now consists of the  Muraqqa Imperial Mughal Albums collection  in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.

Muraqqa': Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin at the Arthur M Sackler Gallery, DC from May 3, 2008-August 3, 2008

The next wing through a connecting corridor hosts the more contemporary paintings from modern Indian artists.
Since the official website hosts a good view of the collections, will not rave here on the favourites nor rant about the some of the more opposite..:-)
However, I draw the line at giving valuable gallery space to sculptures/installations, with old railway line bleachers, a torn dirtied plaster of paris screen and assorted bent wires.
While not looking for 'pretty art', there is a fine line between what is 'art' and...the unecessary!
A walk around any one of our cities will promise you much more refined living versions of the above...which are far from contrived and also aesthetic to the eye and mind! 

Huge canvases popping out with the 'poster-art' of bollywood films from the South: Vijayanthimala, Nutan...

Could not see much of Lala Deen Dayal but there were fun and interesting Black and White Bollywood pictures of choreographers like Saroj Khan and various bollywood actors.
Museum Shop

A good visual position from the lobby of the museum.

Museum Shop Salesperson: droopy, slow to pick out the prints and products pointed out. He was being courted by an earnest young man, trying to sell him a new mobile phone and a new plan.

Salesperson bends down and picks up a clear bottle with clear liquid, adds water from an orange plastic mug with a white lid, downs it in a gulp. Puts the bottle back in the closed cabinet beneath the counter which displays the sample portfolios of the Museum Artists, turns back, sadder and droopier!
Products: The prints are not stored well..since many of them have dings and dirt finger marks and the salesperson licks them to separate them from the piles.
Museum Shop Products: a good set of coffee mugs with Jamini Roy and K G Subramanyam prints among others.
Some good paperweights, well packaged and eye-catching.
Some of the prints advertised in the website might not be available and the toddly Museum Shop-keeper might just block you off with his potent drink!!!
The 'canteen'/cafeteria is a smallish alcove on the side of the building with random chairs in colorful plastic and serves coffee,tea bottled water and serves one of the blandest 'aloo-puffs' [pastries filled with a spiceless potato mix] in Delhi!!! Inrs 7/each.

Clean well maintained bathrooms. At least the one  in the galleries housing the most recent works.

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