Much as we like to think of ourselves as an art-loving society, art doesn’t seem to have found a place for itself in this city.
Take the Sachin Tendulkar art installation created by Mumbai artiste, Jaideep Mehrotra. The metallic sculpture of cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, titled Between the Lines, was first installed at a junction in Worli. After that, it moved to the Marine Drive promenade. There, certain citizen’s groups objected to it and it was uprooted. It was supposed to be installed on the Carter Road promenade at Bandra, but a residents’ association opposed it on the grounds that it eats into the space on the promenade.
While the Sachin Tendulkar art work awaits its new home, one has to wonder if art lovers will be put off by the heartache and rigmarole, the permissions and clearances involved. The civic authorities have supported many projects, but let us make the promotion of public art a smoother, faster process, so that more corporates are encouraged to commission artistes and turn our public spaces into aesthetic spots.
Having said that, it is time to look at the quality of public art work we have here too. We need to move beyond using public art merely as a means to keep a place clean. We must find true artistic merit to put on to our walls, trees, railway platforms and even designated ‘selfie spots’ to signal true maturity in our taste in art.
Certain public art spots are quite unnecessarily being used as windows for political parties, with this or that leader taking credit for adopting the place and promoting the artiste. Let our public places be free from any kind of agenda. The clearances for public art should be smoother and faster and, finally, we should move on to the truly aesthetic in art.