Performers on the stage of life

Cinema and the stage find resonance in Lalitha Lajmi's solo exhibition The Masque of Life, where she will also display watercolour paintings as large as three feet by four feet — something she has never attempted before

In 1961, when Lalitha Lajmi had her first show at Jehangir Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda, her first painting was sold for a mere R100. Lajmi laughs as she recalls the thrill of selling her first painting. “It was my first earning, and the joy is unmatched,” she says. 

Lalitha Lajmi's solo exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery
One of the paintings that Lalitha Lajmi (right) is showcasing at her solo exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery

The artist has had many shows at Jehangir post that, and she is back there again this year with a solo exhibition of her recent works. There will be works in oils, water colours and etchings (prints) as well, at the exhibition The Masque of Life, which will be held from January 15 till 21. Talking about her recent work, Lajmi says they follow a narrative style. “Many kinds of relationships have been explored in these paintings. Clowns have been used as a metaphor, as I feel that performers are not present only in cinema, theatre and circus but even on the stage of life,”
she adds.

The cinematic aspect is apparent in the work, and Lajmi admits it’s the influence of her family steeped in cinema — the late Guru Dutt being her brother, Shyam Benegal her cousin and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi her daughter. “When I used to live in Colaba, I was a member of a number of film societies. Even now I attend many film screenings and have seen a lot of world cinema. Though I am not a part of cinema, I feel it’s in my blood,” she says with a smile.
That is also perhaps the reason, why she’s used only payne’s grey and prussian blue in her work. “I wanted to delete colour from my work. Maybe it was a subconscious decision because the kind of films my brother used to make were shot in black and white,” Lajmi says.

This exhibition is special for the artist as at the age of 80, she has attempted something she has never done before. “It’s the first time I have made paintings as large as three feet by four feet. There will be six such large paintings, while the rest are smaller works,” she informs.

When: January 15-21, 2014
Where: Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Fort
Call: 22843989


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