There’s a celestial earthiness about Sujata Bajaj which is especially evident when she speaks about her decades-long artistry with Ganapati. Through her ‘Ganapati’ exhibition and her collector’s item book by the same name, the city can see how she explored the essence of the elephant-headed and lovable entity.
Despite residing in Paris for nearly 30 years now, she holds true to her cultural identity, having done a PhD in Tribal Art. Her husband Rune Jul Larsen is from Norway, a country with its own unique mythology and which gives Sujata the ability to draw inspiration from nature, while Paris continually elevates her aesthetic repertoire.
“In 2008, eminent collector Shripal Morakhia came to my studio in Paris,” she starts, “He placed a blank cheque before me and wanted to buy all my Ganapati works, but I said the project was extremely personal. He then refused to leave until I promised to do something serious around these works. My husband Rune and nephew Nirad Mehta had been encouraging this, too.”
Pages of ‘Ganapati’
Weighing a few kilograms, Sujata’s book Ganapati isn’t the first book about the project, but it does serve as an enchanting saga also encapsulating her personal journey. Prior to Hyderabad’s launch, she’s been to Delhi, Mumbai and other cities.
The ₹12,000 book is a joint publication between galleries in France and India, and Media India Group based in Paris. Being a perfectionist, Sujata explains she went through many revisions of the book, pointing out various embossing and minute detailing that profoundly affect the look and feel of the final product.
Ganapati features a foreword by Academy Award and Padmashri honouree Jean-Claude Carrière who has faithfully followed Sujata’s career for 20 years, explaining, “Everytime we see her work, characterised as it is by a mix of dash and control, we feel it transmits an energy that is akin to a sense of well-being. Contrary to so many exhibitions which harp on the murky, the arid and on a monotonous pathos, we leave this exhibition feeling cheerful.” Sujata, too, echoes this sentiment. She’s been to Hyderabad four times in her life, but with the burgeoning emphasis upon Telangana’s artistic endeavours, she’s looking forward to more discourse.
Look out for the roundtable interview at the start of the book between Sujata, Jean-Claude, Rune and art critic Kishore Singh; the conversation serves as a fortifier to the creative narrative conveyed through her creations.
Kalakriti Gallery feels no need to sensationalise within its space, thus effectively conveying the various portrayals of Ganesha’s beauty through tonals shifts between each space, making for a very meditative appreciation for the beholder. Her mixed medium works are worth several perusals; each examination opens the beholder to new perspectives. Her sculptures set against black walls make for impactful appreciation.
Anyone walking through the gallery can see how she has taken on the colour of red, a shade to which she is intrinsicially bound, adding in her book Ganapati , “It denotes all aspects of human life— it is the colour of the universe at its beginning, of our very existence.” Sujata adopts several shades of red in a single painting which, through placement and offsets, will capture the eye.
‘Ganapati’ by Sujata Bajaj will be on view at Kalakriti Art Gallery in Banjara Hills from November 6 until December 20.