Beyond boundaries

Eminent artist and writer, Waswo X Waswo, is most famous for his chemically- processed sepia-toned photographs of India and hand-coloured portraits. But he is also an avid collector of fine art prints and has over 200 etchings, lithographs, woodcuts and screenprints designed by artists from 1916 to the present.

Mukul Dey’s 1916 work titled Getting Ready for the Meals shows a woman preparing her daily meal

Two years ago, Waswo felt he should display his collection to the public and contacted Bangalore-based art historian and curator Lina Vincent Sunish to curate an exhibition. Titled Between the Lines: Identity, Place and Power, the event, which opened at New Delhi’s Habitat Centre last August and then travelled to Bangalore, now comes to Mumbai’s National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA).

Sunish says, “This is the first time the works of varied printmaking artists are being showcased under one roof. It’s interesting to have such a huge exhibition dedicated to printmaking, as it is never discussed as a solitary subject. But these works affect the market price of modern art.”

Preeti Agrawal’s 2010 work, Ladies Compartment, depicts working-class women

Rather than following the chronology of events, Sunish focussed on the imagery of the creations. Also, she clubbed them in such a way that viewers understand how the artists are related to each other. “The oldest work in the collection is a hand-coloured drypoint (a printmaking technique in which an image is incised into a plate with a sharp metal needle) made by Bengali artist Mukul Dey in 1916. Printmaking began as an art form in Bengal so works of artists such as Somnath Hore and Haren Das are on display. Later, Baroda became a hub, so there are creations by Jyoti Bhatt, Shanti Dave, KG Subramanyan and Bhupen Khakhar. We also have the works of young artists such as Rajesh Deb, Rini Dhumal and Preeti Agrawal. I have put Kanchan Chandra’s creation next to Anupam Sood’s works, as the former had taught the latter. If viewers notice, they can see a family tree,” she says.

Sunish admits she also highlighted the creations’ human element. “All these 165 works are figurative, so I focussed on how they highlight a human being’s relationship with society.” For instance, Laxmi Goud’s untitled work shows a tribal woman with her pet, Preeti Agrawal’s creation shows a crowded ladies’ compartment while Mukul Dey shows a middle-class woman preparing her daily meals.

When: Till August 31, 11 am to 6 pm
Where: National Gallery of Modern Art, Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall, Fort
Call: 22881970  

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