The city you live in is characterised as much by its beautiful monuments as by the more mundane grocery shops, bakeries and vegetable stalls. After all, these are the places, which keep the city well-fed and kicking, and also see footfalls from various sections of the society.
Perhaps that’s why artist Tina Chandroji chose to focus on establishments that define a neighbourhood but are silently on their way out in an era of homogenised malls.
Her oil on canvas artworks showcase paan, sweetmeat and vegetable shops along with bakeries. Speaking about the exhibition, Chandroji says, “It is all about Mumbai and India. This is our daily life but hardly anyone notices it. I grew up seeing these places. In India, it is part of our culture to start our day with God’s name and end with it.”
The artist admits that her mother, who is a staunch believer in God, has largely influenced her and the depictions are based on her observations. “I tried to keep the culture and traditions in mind as certain businesses are run by people from diverse religions,” she explains, adding that she consciously chose not to depict human forms as she felt they would distract from the theme at hand.
Chandroji admits her artworks might serve as an ode to neighbourhood shops. “I am trying to focus on the concept of family business across generations as no other place in the world boasts of such traditions. After a few years, the vendors are going to be history and will be replaced with malls and supermarkets which is saddening.” Retaining the simplicity of their set-ups, the artist has chosen to give simple and concise captions.
Chandroji’s passion for art dates back to her childhood years and she went on to study at the Sir JJ School of Art. Later, she assisted an Art Director but after marriage she took to painting as a keen pursuit. For the present collection, she clicked photographs of the Dadar flower market, Borivali vegetable market and grocery stores across the city and purchased a variety of products for reference and detailing, for a decade.
Sanjana Shah, director of Tao Art Gallery, states that Chandroji’s art is a perfect example of focus on the mundane to get a clearer idea of the complex. “Through her artworks, she chooses to preserve and present Mumbai that is seen from her perspective. A city that is made of its hustle and bustle, of the ordinary people doing ordinary things, of the markets and products that serve the inhabitants, without which the very livelihood of this city would dwindle.
The inevitable central position of God in each of her paintings, be it Hanuman, Shiva, Jesus, or the Muslim Aayat, is a tribute to the city’s multicultural and secular nature, a city belonging to not one but all of its residents.”
Till August 6, 11 pm to 7 pm
At Tao Art Gallery, Annie Besant Road, Worli.