Gandhigiri framed

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Sep 27 2010, 03:53am hrs
One is an architect-turned artist who refused to put up his art works for sale in his debut show, while the other has dabbled with art direction in films and also donned the hat of an illustrator for a magazine. For both Vishal Dar and Gopal Swami Khetanchi, Mahatma Gandhi is the common subject they have tried to explore in their artworks.

While Dar's show reflects his search for his regional identity, Khetanchi attempts to take a closer look at todays India of post-Gandhi era. Dar's solo show, titled Brownation, refers to brown-skinned people. Brown here equals someone from south Asia. It is about the search for ones regional identitymy identity. I am trying to find my place in the global context, says Dar, who uses series of prints, videos and installations to display socio-political flux that the country finds itself in today. With Gandhi imagery being an integral part of almost half of his current work on display, Dar wants to portray his fondness of the legacy Gandhi has left behind. But is it still relevant Dar is quick to point out that Gandhi and his ideologies will always be relevant as he was a practitioner and not just a preacher.

In his 4x8 ft work titled Flag of Brownations, we see the residue of flags of all countries of our subcontinent, after their colours have all evaporated and just the symbols remain. Dar wants to ask viewers if they see the work unifying us all by removing the separatist colours, or are these remains of what we used to be as a unified whole

For Khetanchi as well, it has been a shift from works depicting petite female figures to depicting Gandhis dream of an independent India, free not only from the imperial rule or domination, but also from poverty and hardships for the people, which, Khetanchi feels, has remained a dream.

The contrasting picture of shining India and whining Bharat is what has been the trigger for this new series of about 15 large oil paintings on canvas and an installation that he has created for the show, feels curator Archana Bahl Sapra. I am trying to portray the difference between India and Bharat on my canvas, says the artist. Gandhi, more than half a century later, is shown looking almost lost, as he confronts a modern, fast moving, IT-savvy, busy and Bollywood-obsessed India of today, whilst in other canvases he finds people continuing to struggle and live in abject poverty as preys to the countrys corrupt bureaucracy and naive government policies. Khetanchi wants to revive the Gandhi legacy that has been lost.

Brownation will be on at Gallery Espace, Delhi, till October 23, while Khetanchi's exhibition Gandhi-giri will begin on October 3 at Art Positive, Delhi.