Interpreting Gandhi

Updated: Jan 25, 2020, 08:56 IST | Anindita Paul | Mumbai

A new exhibition featuring 150 conceptual artworks seeks to reimagine the Gandhian principle of non-violence, on the eve of the Mahatma's death anniversary.

Hetal Shukla at the Centre, which intends to host regular competitions for professionals and amateurs alike in a variety of media, give them gallery space to showcase their work and raise awareness
Hetal Shukla at the Centre, which intends to host regular competitions for professionals and amateurs alike in a variety of media, give them gallery space to showcase their work and raise awareness

In a world marked by strife, religious discord and communal intolerance, the Gandhian ideals of 'truth' and 'non-violence' can easily recede into the far reaches of our consciousness. At the same time, it cannot be denied that it is in times like these that these values become more pertinent than ever before. It is this chasm that the soon-to-be-launched Gandhi Exhibition Centre hopes to bridge, by displaying works of art and sparking conversations that re-interpret and contemporise Gandhism.

Mahatma Gandhi

A canvas for the Mahatma
"The Gandhi Exhibition Centre is an initiative by the Gandhi Films Foundation. The foundation was established with the intent of sharing films that depict the life and times of the Mahatma. However, over the years, we have realised that simply sharing archival material is not enough — there is an urgent need to re-examine Gandhian principles through the voices and eyes of contemporary artists, whether poets, sculptors, painters or photographers. The centre has been envisioned as a site of cultural movement, where the youth can freely discuss Gandhian values and principles in the context of broader societal problems. In fact, although the art displayed here is silent, the inner voice that inspired it will be more resounding than ever before," shares Nitin Potdar, chairman of the Gandhi Exhibition Centre. He also points out that the centre will aspire to showcase works by up-and-coming artists who may not have the financial means to rent gallery space.

Artworks on display at the exhibition
Artworks on display at the exhibition

Violent non-violence
The very first exhibition to be showcased (which will also mark the centre's launch on January 30, the eve of the Mahatma's death anniversary) comprises 150 conceptual artworks by artist Hetal Shukla. Titled Uncamouflage, the installation comprises 150 swatches of camouflage material from across the world. Explaining the underlying concept, Shukla says, "While researching camouflage, every country uses its own pattern and colours based on its topography. Camouflage is the traditional symbol for violence. The Gandhian concept of non-violence, therefore, becomes far more evocative when showcased against this backdrop. Further, in recent times, there has been an explosion in the use of camouflage material in fashion — whether in apparel, bags and other accessories."

Nitin Potdar
Nitin Potdar

He reminds us that never before have so many people around the world worn the same pattern, at the same time. "Consequently, I believe that the use of camouflage also serves as a visual anchor for the youth. In the installation, 75 of these swatches face the left and 75 face the right — each is superimposed with the Mahatma's visage and his message of ahimsa, in the script of the national language. The centrepiece is a larger image of Gandhi superimposed on white khadi fabric — the use of khadi is also significant since it symbolises peace and sustainability," he shares. In addition to viewing the installation, visitors will also be able to participate in discussions about Gandhian ideals.

On January 30 till February 29
At Mani Bhavan, NS Patkar Marg, Gamdevi.
Call 23804681
Free

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