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Rajesh Mehra: An untapped entity

Delhi Silpi Chakra group member, Rajesh Mehra's life narratives.

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RajeshMehraInHisHomeInSaritaVihar.

Search the name Rajesh on the Internet and you’ll be flooded with either late actor Rajesh Khanna’s achievements, his IMDB page or asked to Join Facebook to connect with Rajesh Profiles. What’s lost here is the name of a man who worked with the likes of MF Husain, had numerous paintings showcased in famous exhibits during his career as a painter and is still approached by many curators and galleries. Lost is the man with a name once held so high.

Paintings of Rajesh Mehra
Paintings of Rajesh Mehra.Image Source: http://artanddeal.in/cms/?p=3366

Rajesh Mehra, a well-known painter during his time stopped painting around 40 years ago. Manik Sharma interviews Mehra and narrates the journey of a now 84 year-old painter from his days of sheen to a time where convincing insurance agents for a medical fills up his day.

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Mehra was born in Karolbagh, Delhi in 1932. Joining the Delhi Polytechnic College (later renamed the Delhi College of Art) was his first step towards discovering his passion for paintings. “Unlike today, where courses are thin, we had to learn everything from cooking, to art to literature. It was exhausting at times but I loved it,” says Rajesh Mehra. Starting by putting up paintings in the open space of his college he earned a reputation worthy enough to be invited by BC Sanyal to join Shilpi Chakra. In 1953 he started painting carriages to put some money in his pocket for all the expensive canvases and paints. He had the fire in him but not the money to fuel it.

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With the advent of mid-50’s MF Husain’s popularity grew nationwide and just like every other painter in town Rajesh Mehra too dreamt of a rendezvous with a man that had reached the apex of a profession he so loved. “I desperately wanted to meet Husain. So in 1956 I heard talk about Husain being assigned a mural by one of the education departments in the capital. Out of sheer luck Husain was about to visit a photography studio run by my friend Narendra Pal Singh. I got to know from there that Husain stayed in Delhi at the house of critic M Krishnan, near Ganga Ram hospital. I decided I would meet him at any cost,” Mehra exclaims. He did finally get to meet Husain and was advised to show up to the department’s office where he was offered to assist Husain saab and paid Rs.500 for the job. During his tenure as an assistant, when irked by his growing sense of restlessness he walked up to MF Husain and asked him “I just want to be a painter, but I don’t know where to start.Mujhe nahi pataa kahan se shuru karun.” The reply to a question so naïve stuck with him and guided him in his future endeavours, ‘apne aapse shuru karo‘ words by Husain ji.

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By 1964, he had gained appreciation by prominent figures after the first exhibition of Group 1890 had taken place. And in the same year he travelled to Europe, a country with a culture so different that he felt out of his place on coming back to India. He said, “There was a general, more collective approach towards supporting art in Europe. In India, on the other hand, most of these people were more than happy to step on each other’s foot.” Regardless of his concern over way things worked back in India and the unfortunate fall out of the Group 1890 movement, Mehra had bills to pay and hence had to join as a professor at the College of Art on his return. “When I came back from London, I wasn’t exactly welcomed and soon learned that I had been demoted. Although jobs didn’t really matter as much to me, but it was still a blow to my reputation,” he says.

MehraInLondon1965 ImageSource : http://www.firstpost.com/living/the-man-who-wasnt-there-why-rajesh-mehras-canvasses-suddenly-came-to-an-end-2867822.html
MehraInLondon1965 ImageSource : http://www.firstpost.com/living/the-man-who-wasnt-there-why-rajesh-mehras-canvasses-suddenly-came-to-an-end-2867822.html

The turning point for him was his relocation out of Karolbagh, Delhi. He had a connection to the room he painted in, a connection, which he couldn’t build in his new home in Jangpura. In 1975 he travelled to the mountains to rejuvenate himself and lived in Ranikhet for about two months in a cottage owned by a British Woman. But with both his parents falling critically ill he lost that peace in him, a peace that he never gained back again. Though he made sure to keep one last exhibition in 1978 but this one unlike others did not see any invitations going out to critics.

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Today, his room looks like a warehouse for canvasses; canvasses that he will not sell even after countless galleries approached him. “I want to keep them for the time that I’m alive. God knows what will happen to them once I’m dead,” he says. He chooses to remain an untapped entity.

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Elephant Parade comes to India for the First Time: Statues of 101 life-sized baby elephants transformed into Beautiful works of Art

The parade will travel across the country from November 2017 to March 2018

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Elephant Parade
101 Elephant statues are decorated by artists for the Parade. Wikimedia
  • Elephant family, an NGO, organizes the annual exhibition elephant parade
  • The Elephant Parade is happening in India for the first time
  • The NGO raises awareness for the importance of saving elephant species

August 24, 2017: Statues of 101 life-sized baby elephant that have been transformed into beautiful works of art will be exhibited in Indian cities as part of the 22nd edition of the international “Elephant Parade”, happening in the country for the first time, it was announced here on Wednesday.

“Elephant Parade” is an annual exhibition, that is organized in different cities across the world by NGO Elephant Family to raise awareness for the need for conserving elephants.

ALSO READ: A 20-year-old Elephant gets blessing at a Kerala Church

The organizers say that 20 per cent of the net profits from the show are donated to elephant welfare and conservation projects.

The parade will travel across the country from November 2017 to March 2018.

For this, leading Indian artists, fashion designers, design institutes, tribal painters, and celebrities were engaged to turn 101 elephant sculptures into unique masterpieces, creating a striking spectacle of color to celebrate one of India’s most beloved and endangered animals.

The painted elephants will be displayed in herds in prominent cities to be photographed, hugged and kissed by admiring audiences as part of what has become recognized as the world’s biggest public art event.

The parade aims to generate funds to secure 101 elephant corridors across India for the pachyderms, who face the risk of displacement through fragmentation of their habitat and human disturbances.

Thus, after the public displays across Indian cities, the elephants will then be sold at two high profile auctions in Mumbai and London to raise funds.

“We will celebrate the magnificence of the iconic Asian elephant, generating mass awareness of their plight and making everyone smile at the same time,” said Ruth Powys-Ganesh, the CEO of Elephant Family in India.

“With the support of the world’s top creatives, the 101 painted elephants will move us closer to our target to secure a network of 101 elephant corridors – vital strips of habitat that reconnect India’s forests, the number one priority for this species,” she added.

Other Asian cities where the parade has been held include Suzhou, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Hong Kong. It has also been held in Taiwan. (IANS)

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“Whispering Toros” : Journey of Artist Kanchan Chander narrated through work in New Delhi

Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions though her drawings, paintings and installations with a unique charisma to engage her audience

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Artist Kanchan Chander, drawing
Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions though her drawings, paintings and installations with a unique charisma to engage her audience.
  • Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions through her drawings, paintings
  • Earlier, her works were based on torsos that were minimal, monumental and sparse with decorative and embellished motifs
  • Highlights of the show include a paper collage on plastic mannequin torsos which are bold, funky and vibrant

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The journey of an artist is encapsulated in her ongoing timeline narrating where she began from to now, when she engages with her subject before putting life in them.

Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions through her drawings, paintings and installations with a unique charisma to engage her audience.

Her show titled, “Whispering Toros” is on for view here at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Center, till August 23.

Kiran. K. Mohan has curated the exhibition.

“As a curator, it is my very first interaction with Kanchan and her works in her studio bring across a great sense of bonding,” Mohan said.

“I have followed her as an artist for years and have silently related to her works which are thought-provoking, dealing with the issues prevalent in our society,” she said.

Highlights of the show include a paper collage on plastic mannequin torsos which are bold, funky and vibrant.

Her works are full of forms of the torso using different mediums. “They resonate her style and all the tedious intricate detailing surrenders to perfection. Kanchan has been working on female toros for past two decades,” the organisers said.

Earlier, her works were based on torsos that were minimal, monumental and sparse with decorative and embellished motifs. Now she started incorporates painted flowers, sequins and Swarovskis on them.

They works are full of textured lines, built by layers upon layers of paint. Yet at the same time her mixed media torsos are embellished with sequins, Swarovskis, stickers, laces, wrapping paper and any found objects, which she is constantly on the lookout for at home, on streets and local bazaars.

“As she works, her thought process is more human and intuitive — ensuring that all art elements like composition, tonality, lines, colour, mediums and placements are summarised with precision,” the organisers said. (IANS)

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India-Bahrain Art Exchange: The event in New Delhi to Feature Work of 30 Artists from across the World

Indian art scene is considered among the most developed in the region with great talent, therefore, India will be a huge platform for artists to showcase the artwork of Bahraini artists

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Encouragement of Indian artists and Bahraini artists
A painter working for Islamic Art annual fair. Wikimedia
  • Rouble Nagi has teamed up with Kaneka Sabharwal to show an initiative, that aims at connecting creative enthusiasts from Bahrain and India
  • The event will be conducted later this year, in Mumbai and New Delhi 
  • The event is set to feature work of around 30 artists including the significant presence of Bahraini female artists 

New Delhi, August 17, 2017: Indian art doesn’t seem to show any signs of abatement in the international art world, and eminent artist and philanthropist, Rouble Nagi is all pumped up to show the master that she is.

Rouble Nagi Art Foundation has teamed up with Kaneka Sabharwal to show an initiative, first of its kind, that welcomes contemporary artists from the entire world and aims at connecting creative enthusiasts from Bahrain and India through an unparalleled exchange program. The initiative is supported by the government of India.

“I was very keen to create something that will fall in line with the emergent global consciousness that has entered the international art scene. I wanted to introduce the world to contemporary Indian art and bring global art to the country so that the relationship with art is much more intimate and undeviating. The event won’t be limited to showcasing art but also consists of art-talks so as to open a dialogue between international artists,” mentioned Rouble Nagi, in the ANI report.

“This initiative aims to give a platform to Bahraini and Indian artists, exposing them to local and international aspirational values, as well as creating economic capital from the cultural capital,” she added.

ALSO READ: Indian art gaining worldwide recognition. 

The event which is to be conducted later this year in Mumbai and New Delhi will be held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of the King of Bahrain, President of The Supreme Council For Women ArtBab. She produces art on an iPad, and is going to visit India for the very first time.

The event is all set to feature work of around 30 artists, ranging from impressive video art installations, eclectic pop art, to contemporary sculptures and the significant presence of Bahraini female artists.

Balqees Fakhro, Faika Al Hasan, Jamal Abdul Rahim, Khalid Farhan, Lulwa Al Khalifa, Nabeela Al Khayer and Omar Al Rashid are some of the Bahraini artists who will be showcasing their works.

There will also be an exhibition of the artistic dexterity of the underprivileged children, who are supported by the Rouble Nagi Art Foundation.

Kaneka Sabharwal, Co-Founder of ArtBAB and Founder of Art Select and Jonathan Watkins of Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, who is also chair of ArtBAB’s international selection committee, will be the curator of the event.

“Bahrain, which traces its roots to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, the Dilmun Empire, has a rich history of art and many historians assert that the art came to the kingdom of Bahrain from India. The Bahrainis are known to have some of the best art collections and I want to introduce art collectors and enthusiasts around the world to the talent of Bahraini artists,” noted Kaneka, who moved to Bahrain in 2009.

According to Dr. E M Janaki, CEO Tamkeen, art sector has not only locally but across the region, achieved importance as an engine of economic growth.

ALSO READ: Indian art: The folkish inclination 

Indian art scene is considered among the most developed in the region with great talent, therefore, India will be a huge platform for artists to showcase the artwork of Bahraini artists.

The vision is to bring together an art alliance that isn’t limited by geographies and widens the conception of art, in regard to which, the multi-cultural arty affair will be host to a bevy of notable guests from various spheres, including political and corporate.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha