Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Diary of Riaz Samadhan @ The Museum Art Gallery, Mumbai

- By Deepa Krishnan

I don't really follow the contemporary Indian art scene.

But the very first thing that struck me about Riaz Samadhan's current showing (The Diary of Riaz Samadhan) is his refined sensibility. As soon as I stepped into The Museum Art Gallery, I knew this artist's sense of aesthetics was something that personally appealed to me.

Painting titled "Beauty lies in wholeness".
There is a bed of dried leaves strewn on the floor of the entire gallery. The whole effect looks really good, doesn't it?

Then I took some time to really see his work, and I found myself liking it more and more. He has a perceptive sensitivity about people, about the nature of things; and he combines that with a non-sentimental, restrained but rich way of expressing it.

For example, see this one, called Perception Diptych. As soon as you see it, you sort of mentally slow down and look deeper. On the black half of the diptych, the line drawing of the house invites you to see the inner dimensions of the man. On the other half, there is a farm, trees, perhaps this is how this person views himself, perhaps it is an accurate self-perception, but perhaps it is not. Perhaps the man cannot see all of it?

Painting titled "Perception Diptych".
As you can see, there's a lot going on, but the execution is disciplined and simple. There is no overstatement. I would have liked to buy this for my house, but suspect that I cannot afford it :) :)

Here is a view of the Museum Art Gallery; you can see how Riaz has used the gallery space. The centre installation has a set of daily objects. I'm guessing that each object is a memory from Riaz's personal "Diary", things that have meaning for him. The objects are displayed on a stand; the stand is set in a bed of leaves strewn on the entire gallery floor.

Gallery view with leaves on floor

I figured that apart from the objects, the leaves themselves - the dry rustling sound and the rich woody smell - were evocative of some personal memories for Riaz, and wondered what they were. Of course, modern "good manners" forbid you from asking such personal questions, but I would have dearly liked to know!

Standing in that air-conditioned room, smelling the fragrance of the dried leaves, taking in the aesthetic appeal of the paintings...it was a short but sweet treat for the senses. Thank you, Riaz Samadhan, for sharing your Diary :)


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