Friday, October 2, 2009

And the Delhi of the Markets...

Street Food at Connaught Place, New Delhi.

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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Delhi of the Dead and the Sleeping: Safdarjung's Tomb

In the height of summer in Delhi,  you can walk down to the Lodi Gardens and relax, or walk a little further, straight down Lodi Road ending at the gates of Safdarjung's  tomb. While the walk is along the shady pathway,  there is no let up to the heat and sweat.

Walk on a little bit more, pay the Rs 5 fee, walk on past the waterbody onto the main building, climb up the stairs and collapse near one of the doorways, either side of the main entrance: the breeze is unbelievable  and calm and quiet is broken only by the laughter of college kids playing hide and seek: boys and girls free from supervision and perhaps the unwanted attention a single woman visitor garners:
Can I sit here?
It is a public place
Am I disturbing you?
Are you alone?
No, waiting for someone.
Do you work?
Is this your first time in Delhi
No, I keep coming for work
Do you like Delhi?
Not so much... need to be careful of Delhi folks.
Oh no, we have to change your that we have become friends.
We are not friends!
Are you married?
Are you from South India?
Are you Christian?
No [ my bindi must have fallen off with the sweat beads!]
So you are Hindu!
Slight nod. "No, I am pagan!"  remains in the mental realm
Do you have kids?
Yes, 10!
Oh! ...Silence for a few minutes
"This peace is beautiful and these silly college kids are breaking it..."
They are fine! I like it!

After finding out the fact earlier, Shri Govind was shaken off by a  remark to find out whether the door to the upper level was open or not.
By the time, Shri Govind went all around Safdarjung's  first upper level looking for the stairs, moi was down the stairs and out  through the entrance.

The ticket counter hosts the afternoon snooze of 3 employees  with the fourth one manning the counter.
A request for brochures and other documents gets a nod towards the empty display counter and a question towards one of the snoozers who obviously cannot make the effort and gives the usual Indian Babudom-brush-off, of finding it somewhere else and sometime later!!

With the kind of efforts and money being pumped by the GOI to primp the city in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, an eye and attention to Safdarjung's Tomb employees attitude might really  spruce up the monument!