New Delhi: In a pop-art inspired painting, the finger tips of Mahatma Gandhi and Mao Zedong do not touch, as in Michelangelo’s famous “The Creation of Adam”, but elements like tanks and a wedding entourage lend political colour to the image at the ongoing India Art Fair.
Singapore-based artist Ketna Patel has reinterpreted famous classical Renaissance paintings in her collection “Heterotopia”, where she pokes at the collective global bewilderment of political leadership, at war and peace, and geo-political tussles between India and China.
Patel, who straddles studios in London and India, is represented by Apparao Galleries at the fair.
In “The Creation”, homage to Michelangelo’s famous painting, Gandhi sends a wedding entourage to Mao to discuss freedom of Tibet, whereas Mao sends tanks in return. With fingers not touching, one is left wondering whether the two are making up, or breaking up.
“Under the garb of wry humour, the paintings could be extremely dark, if one observes them closely. Political instability, the indifference of many political leaders, and tussles revolving around war, peace and greed are focal points of my paintings,” Patel told IANS.
Using painting techniques borrowed from Bollywood hoardings and comic books, the realism of the original Renaissance paintings has been transformed into a synthetic, “karaoke”-type stage set.
Italian painter Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” has become “The Fall of Venus” where Mao, Geisha girls, Draupadi and Krishna are all linked in a new interpretation of the world we live in.
“Gods, mythology and dead politicians play an important role in these reinterpretations because of our belief in their ideologies and existence,” she said.
Then there is “The Last Asian Supper”, inspired by late 15th-century mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci. In this, several individuals are having a junk food picnic in the setting sun. Strewn with litter, the scene shows them happily enjoying themselves, oblivious to the darkness that is about to befall them.
One can spot spiritual leader Dalai Lama, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Myanmarese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, along with Chairman Mao and Gandhi in this painting.
The only individual in the narrative that is not dressed in colour is one sitting in this picnic, reading a book titled “How to Build a Nation”.
“The message is clear: They all are wondering, discussing and thinking how they can build a nation worth living in, but because of differences in interest, the meeting is more like a picnic, and no one is actually talking about politics and diplomatic relations,” she said.
The sixth edition of India Art Fair showcases 30 international and 47 domestic galleries at the NSIC Grounds, Okhla. The fair ends Sunday.