Bombay Showcase

Shivaji in 3D

Fresh insight:Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao ( top centre) felicitates historian Babasaheb Purandare at the Jehangir Art Gallery after inaugurating a 3D oil paintingcollection on Tuesday. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also present.— Photo: Rajendra G.  

Walk along Marine Drive at sunset and you are greeted with the silhouette of the city’s skyline, and fishing boats bobbing amongst the waves. But that scene is set for change, with the proposed 300-foot statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji scheduled to come up about five kilometres off the coast.

Right now, though, the city is hosting an art exhibition that celebrates the warrior king’s life and legacy. The Jehangir Art Gallery is showcasing 120 life-sized (9x5 feet) paintings curated by Deepak Gore, director at the Vazifdar Foundation.

The 3D oil paintings are accompanied by Anil Nalawade’s descriptions and poems about Shivaji’s capital, Fort Raigad. The exhibition also includes scenes from his coronation, infrastructure development plans, wars, and trade and commerce during his era.

The collection’s origins go back to one of the numerous visits of historian Babasaheb Purandare to a friend’s home in the U.S. It was there that the Maharashtra Bhushan recipient spotted a replica of an old masterpiece of Shivaji. The precision of the copy raised Purandare’s curiosity and he approached Gore, who at the time was handling Studio Windsor, known for its old master creations. The meeting influenced Gore to curate the project.

The collection, which took a painstaking 14 years to complete, is the result of the artistic effort of father-son duo Shrikant and Gautam Chougule, who were directed by Gore throughout the journey.

Gore says, “After gathering points from Purande’s book Raja Shiva Chhatrapati , I would take-off with the artists to forts and landscapes mentioned in the book for a more first-hand experience.”

The trio visited Raigad during the annual festival commemorating Shivaji’s coronation. They also made several trips as the colours of the landscapes changed through the seasons.

“A single painting took the artists four to six months to create,” says Gore.

First, they would do black-and-white pencil sketches of scenes from Shivaji’s durbar and his attempt to capture Janjira Island from the African Siddis. These were sent to Pune for Purandare’s approval. Purandare would also give the go-ahead on colour schemes. The paintings were then finally recreated with oil onto the canvas.

Shrikant Chougule says, “We did not know the magnitude of the project. Had we known we would have backed out, out of fear. But Mr. Gore knew exactly how to get the work done and he gave us guidance on the Shivshahi era.”

Gore believes realistic paintings are cuurently not as popular as the abstract form. Its revival is what he strives to achieve through this exhibition. His vision includes a permanent exhibit at the National Gallery of Modern Art, and an approval by the government to display them at the proposed Shivaji memorial.

“I want these paintings to be an inspiration to youngsters, encouragement to entrepreneurs, and guidance to leaders,” says Gore. “These excerpts from the past should be more easily available to our citizens, and also help history students study the life of Shivaji in a different light.”

If proposals for a permanent exhibition get sanctioned, the tour will include five-minute audio descriptions of each painting in Indian languages, including Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Hindi and Urdu, and international languages, including English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.

Visitors can also opt for a personal guided tour by experts of the exhibit.

History is documented in the pages of a book or through essays by historians, but the visual form seems a more compelling way to draw in crowds.

So why wait for massive statues to do it for you, when life-sized canvases can do the job just as well?

Raja Shivchhatrapati: Life, Vision, Legacy at Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, from 11a.m.-7p.m. till June 20.

The author is a freelance writer

The collection is the result of the artistic effort of father-son duo Shrikant and Gautam Chougule

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 9:09:09 PM |

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