Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Obituary - Jasu Bhai Naik - An Unsung Veteran passes away..

Jasu Bhai Naik- An Unsung Veteran Passes Away
(Artist Jasu Bhai Naik)
Jasu Bhai Naik is no more. Like many art teachers who silently prepare many important artists of the future, in many remote corners of our country, Jasu Bhai Naik too was not known to the world. But in South Gujarat everyone knew him, not only as an artist but also a Gandhian and social reformer. He was the guiding spirit of the BA Mehta Kala Mahavidyalaya, Amalsad. Many young artists studied under him, a few of them went for further studies in big city art colleges and became successful. Many of them stayed back in South Gujarat itself which is rich in many industries. Surat and Vapi are the closest industrial towns in South Gujarat and diamond cutting is one of the important industries. So many young artists who get trained in the BA Mehta College join these industries as designers and craftsmen. But they all carry the legacy of Jasu Bhai Naik who even after retiring from service remained the hub of the South Gujarat art and cultural activities till his death on 17th March 2014, on Holi day. He must have been nearly hundred years old as for a person like him after a certain stage, age becomes irrelevant. He had been suffering from throat cancer for quite some time. But with simple life and positive attitude, and above all his zest for social reforms, he continued to live a comparatively pain free life.
Though I do not belong to Gujarat, I have some emotional connections with South Gujarat as it was there I had first witnessed how art was taught and practiced in small town art colleges. The person who took me there was artist Somu Desai, an alumnus of BA Mehta Kala Mahavidyalaya. I met Somu in 2007 and the next year itself I visited him at Pardi, near Vapi, and he took me to his college. From there he took me to Jasu Bhai Naik’s house and Somu had insisted that it was imperative to meet the man who had given some status to the artists in South Gujarat who otherwise were considered to be just artisans and craftsmen. He received us with a grandfather’s enthusiasm and love. I could feel the Gandhian spirit in his demeanour and dress. His smile was benevolent. He spoke in Hindi and in broken English. And when he really wanted to express himself he spoke in Gujarati and Somu translated for me. 
Jasu Bhai Naik was an old school artist. He learnt his techniques in the British Academic style which was promoted by the J.J.School of Art in Mumbai. Most of the central western and central Indian art colleges followed the J.J.School syllabus and the accent was given on developing academic skill. Jasu Bhai Naik was trained in this school of thought but instead becoming a portrait artist or becoming a part of the growing industries in and around his town, Jasu Bhai decided to be a social activist. He promoted art and culture amongst people and was instrumental in establishing art programs in many schools in the Amalsad area. He was one of the founding fathers of the BA Mehta Kala Mahavidyalaya. He took the initiative to conduct art workshops and exhibitions of the local artists. Though, BA Mehta College was not a full-fledged graduate college, he inspired many of his students to go to other art institutions to get higher education. In a true Gandhian way, he inspired the young artists to develop sustainable models of living so that they could pursue their art with freedom and dignity.
Somu Desai remembers that Jasu Bhai Naik understood the value of art and he felt the necessity for small town artists establishing their independent career. When Somu Desai, after graduating from the BA Mehta College, decided to shift to Mumbai to earn as a designer, Jasu Bhai Naik’s advice was to get back to art once he found enough money to do so. Somu says that he always remembered his master’s words. After working in the field of textile designing for a few years, Somu shifted his base to Baroda and started learning things from the young graduates from the Fine Arts Faculty. He at once became a mentor to many and a learner from many. And like his master, he inspired many other young art graduates from BA Mehta College to go to Baroda or elsewhere to study and practice art. Somu says that his inspiration comes from Jasu Bhai Naik. Another artist, Akshay Naik, who heads the Applied Art Department of the BA Mehta College, also believes that Jasu Bhai Naik was a unique personality who inspired a lot of artists in South Gujarat. Jasu Bhai Naik lives on in the minds of the artists from South Gujarat. 



Rhythm of Life
(Work by Vinay Bagde)
Gallery Pradarshak, Mumbai presents a solo show of artist Vinay Bagde. The show is titled, ‘Rhythm of Life’ and displays some of the acrylic on canvas works of the young artist from  Latur. The vibrantly coloured works display the influence the artist has felt by the rural surroundings and tribal life of the Lamani tribe. 

Rendered mostly in figuratives, the works displaymen and women of the tribe actively trying to be part fo an urban setting, be it as construction workers or as day labourers deviating from their original occupation of tending cattle.

The works are on view from 18th March to 29th March 2014.

Gitanjali and Sea Inside

India International Centre, New Delhi presents a solo show titled, ‘Gitanjali and Sea Inside: Parallel Journeys’. The show will display art works by artist Nibedita Sen. The show is a reflective study presentation with an array of prose, verses, paintings and installations. 
The artist has tried to trace a parallel between the word images of Tagore and her own visual metaphors, which she feels are the reflections evolving from a similar amalgamation of inward and outward journeys.
The show is on view till 29th March 2014.

Portraits & Scenes de Vie
(Work by Pichaya Manet)
Alliance Francaise de Madras, is displaying some of the original paintings of artist Pichaya Manet. Reminiscent of the early 20th century Fauvists, his paintings are an intensity of colour and exaggeration of form. The show is titled, ‘ Portraits & Scenes de Vie’.
The artist is not afraid to interpret what he sees with a spontaneous freedom that stems from his passion for dance. A modern vision is juxtaposed with the traditional, while an innate sense for rhythm remains the key to each piece.
The show is on view till 19th March 2014.

( Work on display)
Apparao Galleries, Chennai presents a spectacular group show of art works by eminent contemporary and upcoming artists. The show is titled, ‘Courtesan’. The word courtesan evokes vision of sensual women who were aware of the effect of their sexuality and its power over people, unafraid and strong. In a time marked by hedonism, refinement, extravagance, intrigue and beauty. The courtesans used their weapons for survival in such a society.

The show aims to bring to life these forgotten women and their ways of life by celebrating beauty, wit, sex, refinement and elegance.

The show is on till 5th April 2014.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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