Stroke of genius

Jun 27, 2012, 10:20 IST | Soma Das

Mahalaxmi's new design space Aurobodh is showcasing select drawings and paintings by the late Norway-based Indian artist Ambadas Khobragade. The tribute features texts written by artists and critics documenting his journey as a painter

For artist Ambadas Khobragade (1922-2012) painting was akin to a performance with “an instant plunging, flirting and merging with life, with being and becoming”.

Untitled, water colour and oil on paper

Tribute time
As he wrote in an article in 1996, “Nothing is empty. Every bit of space breathes.” So, while he attempted to depict the living, breathing space through his abstract paintings, the artist also laid the groundwork for modern art in India. He was a contemporary of MF Hussain, KH Ara and FN Souza, and his art is infused with profound spirituality.

While he delved on concepts of impermanence through his art, he also ensured that people could grasp the underlying meaning. A collection of 20 rare drawings and paperworks by the artist are now on display and sale at Aurobodh, as part of their first exhibition, titled Remembering Ambadas Khobragade.

Says Jesal Thacker, owner of Aurobodh, “As he was based in Norway, he was not known in Mumbai. We had planned an exhibition of his works later in the year at the gallery. But since he passed away recently we decided to pay a tribute to him by showcasing his artworks.”

Between the lines
Thacker has known the artist and his family for several years and has been documenting the artist’s life for a book that she is writing. She notes that Khobragade’s artworks were unique in that his paperworks gave a feel of the figure while his watercolour and oil artworks had texture, colour and form. “His artworks despite being abstract were not intimidating,” she states. Among Thacker’s personal favourites is the painting Ambadas has done based on a shlok from the Bhagvad Gita — He who finds in the midst of intense activity the greatest rest, and in the midst of the greatest rest intense activity, he has become a Yogi (IV 18). At the exhibition, there will be clippings of comments about the artist written by fellow artists and critics.

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