"Buying art is a luxury, viewing is not"

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Apr 5 2009, 05:31am hrs
Picking up from where he left from his previous exhibition Transmogrification of a City, artist Jaideep Mehrotra is ready to highlight the changing urban landscapes through his new collection of works. The exhibition Growing Panes in Solitude is Mehrotras attempt to bring out the ways how cities are changing. In 2007, I had done a show in Mumbai depicting how cities are transforming themselves like a life form. Our cities have become overgrown villages. And in my present series I am trying to portray the energy of a city excluding the human forms, says Mehrotra.

The exposition will also have work inspired by the Mumbai terror attacks that had a deep impact on him and brought back memories of his traumatic stay in Africa where he was even held at gunpoint on occasions. That experience scarred me. And when the Mumbai attacks took place, the little cocoon that I had built for myself was burst and I was exposed to the harsh realities, recalls Mehrotra who lost a couple of his friends in those ghastly chain of events. He adds how he could not do anything at all. It was hard to accept the fact that the city you have grown up in, which have all your memories, could go through something like this. The places I used to frequent suddenly looked different and felt as though they had been violated, and life that trudged with complacency, was suddenly shattered, he adds.

And this experience did influence his works in the present series that have, strong influence of isolated space, he says. He also adds that despite this influence, there is hope too as, You want to steel yourself from such happenings, adds the artist.

Having exhibited across the globe, Mehrotra finds and undefined comfort in the city of Mumbai. It is a comfortable market. You have your own pace, your dedicated audience and buyers. And that was the reason why it took me 18 years to put together a show in Delhi as I felt that the gap was too long, he adds. Having had no formal education in art, he evolved his own unique style since he began with his first solo exhibition at the age of 12. Mehrotra mostly paints in acrylic and oils and finds it exciting to portray different subjects to different media.

In addition to paintings, the artist will also have four audio-visual installations as part of the exhibition. I have been playing with this medium for some time now. As I kept the human form out of the paintings, I brought in the movement in the video installations. They have the same theme but have the human element added to it, says the artist.

And does he believe that the art world will be able to tide through the economic crisis Buying art is a luxury, viewing is not. Only the artists have the license to innovate, experiment and express themselves. They are not ruled by the market and that is why its not the artists who will be affected, says Mehrotra, adding that he doesnt trade in his work.