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Linking life and art

The recently-inaugurated Nirmala Birla Gallery of Modern Art houses works of art belonging to various artists and movements. It is a platform for art education, awareness and appreciation.

GALLERY SCULPTURE: Chintamani Kar's 'Jalakanya'

Lack of knowledge about art makes people lose their mental balance. The atmosphere of tension and conflict in the world is also due to the ignorance about the issue and the essentiality of art in life.

Nandalal Bose

T<232>HE HAPPENING art scene in Hyderabad gets a fillip and a big one. The Nirmala Gallery of Modern Art that was recently inaugurated by Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu comes at a time when the people of Hyderabad are in midst of an involuntary art campaign heralded in by several factors. Good number of art galleries, exhibitions, corporate involvement, camps, workshops, Cinema Ghar, Husain's visits, his roping stalwarts like Tyeb Mehta, proposed government sponsored studios and more galleries are urging an involvement with the plastic arts. A permanent fixture now on the tourists list in the city will be Nirmala Gallery of Modern Art in the premises of the B.M. Birla Science Museum accentuating the upbeat art movement here of late. Collecting contemporary art for about two decades Nirmala Birla, President of the B.M. Birla Science Museum's collection of over 150 paintings and sculptures is a symbiosis of `now' and `then'. Well-known artist and art teacher Nandalal Bose had said `although every man and woman cannot become an artist, it is necessary that there should be arrangements for art education for everyone in society whichever walk of life he or she may belong to.' The establishment of the museum should be an important terminus, connecting people to art - a platform for art education, awareness and appreciation.

DOYEN"S WORK: Manjit Bawa's 'Ranjha'

The 6,500 sq feet area presently adorns 69 paintings and 15 sculptures substantiating various movements and moods of artists - bygone, old, young, famous, hidden behind the sheen of fame and upcoming. Providing a multi-dimensional experience are the works of artists no more, like G.R.Santosh, the tantrik maestro, Biren De, J. Swaminathan and a monumental sculpture by Meera Mukherjee, speaking of her sheer courage and dedication to the art of metal casting. Her powerful eulogy of strength, grace and rhythm create a magnetic aura at the spacious gallery. H.K.Kejriwal, industrialist, art collector, promoter and the vice president of the B.M.Birla Science Museum - The main resource behind the gallery establishment and involved with the contemporary art field for decades emphatically states that "art creates tourism. India should now concentrate on art. Our wonderful heritage that is closed in a box should be opened. Small galleries and museums in good number should come up and that's how tourism will flourish. Smt. Birla's fascination and attachment for Hyderabad over the years has made her choose Hyderabad to donate her collection and this is the first phase of development." He also said that "the gallery would have different works substituting the already existing works and new additions from time to time." Hence it will not be a `see once and forget' project but tempt the audience to make visits often. The `on show' collection of 74 artists too guarantees this. While today the veterans are identified with their trademark styles and new works, the collection has an old Tyeb Mehta, (before the stylistic distortion set in), a rare egg tempera by Laxma Goud, an acrylic by Shyamal Dutta Ray, a 70s work by Sudhir Patwardhan reminiscence of Latin American art, an early Ramkumar landscape and an exquisite Somnath Hore sculpture in metal. Smt Birla's collection seems to be consistent, representing artists across the last two decades. There is a big representation of the Bengal artists, from Meera Mukherjee, Somnath Hore, Chintamani Kar, Jogen Choudhry, Paritosh Sen, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Suhas Roy and Sanat Kar to the younger Aditya Basak, Sameer Aich, Prokash Karmakar and several others.

FILLIP TO ART: The Nirmala Gallery of Modern Art is the latest in the city.

The presence of works by Jatin Das, Manjit Bawa, Arpita Singh, C.Douglas, S.G.Vasudev, Yusuf Arakkal, Manu Parekh, Arpana Caur, Rekha Rodwittya, Bhupen Khakkar, Akbar Padamsee, Gurcharan Das among several others, displays the collectors response towards the `figurative' over the small and significant collection of non-figurative works by noted artists like Akhilesh, Surya Prakash, Ganesh Haloi and Paramjeet Singh.

Two latest additions of young artists, Adip Dutta and Jitish Kallat promise, Smt. Birla's continuing bond with contemporary Indian art. A fact that would help as a catalyst in the promotion of art appreciation among people. Dr. Anupama Bhatnagar, the curator of the gallery, a person with museology background says, "l already love to be among the `artists' and am excited about my long journey with modern art in the country." Under the administration of Dr. Siddharth, Director, B.M.Birla Science Museum, Smt. Birla's `donation' to Hyderabad should indeed be helpful in creating a new dimension in building a link between life and art.


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