A new glimpse of Sabavala
Colaba gallery Akara Art's latest exhibition looks at the legendary artist's seven-decade-long career with 15 artworks, most of which will be shown publicly for the first time
I'm not a spontaneous painter. I have to make it happen." Although he described his artistic process in a nutshell, the physicality of Jehangir Sabavala's work was anything but instantaneous. The late artist's thoughts were translated into several preliminary sketches to plot and plan his work. Bits of these sketches lead to a master sketch, which finally materialises in the canvases, some of which now find their way into auctions and achieve record-breaking feats. Tomorrow, Colaba gallery Akara Art will present Sabavala's first posthumous solo exhibition in a gallery setting.
Titled Jehangir Sabavala: Pilgrim Souls, Soaring Skies, Crystalline Seas, the show features 15 artworks, many of which have rarely been placed in public view, and traces his seven-decade-old career. Puneet Shah, the gallery's founder, has always wanted to do a Sabavala show. "I had conveyed the same to Shirin [Sabavala's wife] when we opened the gallery [in 2009]. This show took six to eight months of planning. The lockdown gave us a good opportunity to research and reach out to people who possessed works by him," he says.
Elegy, Oil on Canvas, 1967
The team worked with art critic and independent curator Ranjit Hoskote to identify different periods and styles of the artist's oeuvre. The exhibition has been divided into four sections: the quintessential landscapes and cityscapes that Sabavala worked on in the '60s and '70s, figures, early Cubist works and watercolours. "His legacy is really important and these never-seen-before works form part of that legacy as well. And because it's Sabavala, even though things are just starting to open up during this phase of the lockdown, it's going to motivate people to come to the exhibition," feels Shah.
While all the sanitisation and safety precautions are being taken, an appointment isn't necessary to view this show. "But no more than five people will be allowed inside the gallery at the same time," Shah asserts.
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