This world is but a canvas to our imagination.’ These famous words by American litterateur Henry David Thoreau ring true when you see artist Mohan Samant’s paintings at the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery housed in the premises of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS). The dimly-lit gallery creates the perfect ambiance to enjoy the beauty of the artist’s works.
Nine years after his demise, 29 of his beautiful creations are on display for the public for the first time. “Samant was ahead of his time. When his compatriots developed their own styles of paintings and got stuck in them. he experimented with avant-garde possibilities that Indian art had not explored,” says Kamini Sawhney, curator of the exhibition.
Samant experimented with varied media such as sand, wires and cut-outs on the canvas. While all his works are fascinating, the one that stands out is Medusa On The Moon, which he painted in 1988.
“This painting seeks its influence from Greek mythology. Medusa, a gorgon who has venomous snakes on her head. is seen sitting on the moon. Samant has carved the canvas and placed toy animals inside. He has also glued sand on the canvas and used wires on Medusa’s head to depict snakes, thus, giving the painting a realistic effect,” explains Sawhney.
Voodoo Spirituals, which he created in 2002, draws its influence from the African culture. Samant has used acrylic and water colours on paper. The painting depicts African men practising occult science.
Samant’s wife Jillian also reveals some interesting facts about him. She says, “He created some of his works on a hospital bed when he was recovering from a cardiac arrest. Doctors prohibited him from painting on the canvas as it was strenuous for him. So he painted on paper and made cut-outs of them which he later glued on the canvas.”
Despite being inspired by 5,000 years of art of varied civilisations, Samant was a modernist. His painting titled The Night Show, which he created in 1981, depicts the night life of New York.
Samant has also left a message for art aficionados explaining the meaning of his works, “In my painting I have swallowed the entire history of a thousands of years and synchronised it into a modern idiom. Nobody can tell me I am a copyist because I am just as modern as anyone else except that my influences do not come from a contemporary art world; they come from the entire panorama of art history.”
WHEN: Till February 10, 2014
WHERE: Jehangir Nicholson Gallery, CSMVS, Kala Ghoda