Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The painting

It had been a boring summer at home after my ship reached Indian shores having traveled to exotic locations across four continents of the world during winter and spring. Days were spent not knowing what to do with them; one day at a time. Today, while glancing through the Bombay Times (for it deserves no more than a glance), I saw that one of India's most renowned painters Mr. Natwar Shah had his painting exhibition at the Jehangir Art gallery called 'My signature exhibition'. It was one of its kind, for the guests would not only get to meet Mr. Shah in person but also for the first time on display were his unsigned paintings. He would sign them in front of all his fans and the entire gathering at the gallery. Reading that advertisement, I started reminiscing my days at school where I loved to paint and decided to check out the exhibition to get a glimpse of Mr. Shah myself. Afterall, there could be nothing juicier than art on a dry summer day.

Jehangir Art Gallery is perhaps honored of being the place where the best put their best on display. While looking at the various pieces of marvel, there was an unusual one that caught my eye. It was painted majorly in shades of black but also randomly in shades of red, orange, green. The forms in the painting seemed undecipherable and I couldn't make much of the painting. I looked at the title of the painting. It was called 'Happiness' and i realized this is what people called abstract painting!

The painting was making no sense to me and while I was looking at the painting, another curious painting enthusiast came and stood next to me. "Wow, isn't that a remarkable painting?", he exclaimed. I was wondering how did he decode the crypt hidden in the painting or whether he was just faking it up. Whichever be the case, not wanting to look ignorant, I said, "Ya. It is so beautiful. Look at the various new forms and patterns. They are so creative and unusual". There are two types of men in the world - a few mad ones who comprehend art and the others who behaved as it they were the mad ones. This fellow seemed to belong to the first category though for he analyzed the hues, the forms and their relation to happiness with me in great detail.

While this discussion (rather a monologue) was on, a few more had joined us. Someone remarked, "How uncharacteristic and creative! Look at the Z and the inverted A painted at the two ends of the painting. The painter believes that a reversal of the dogmas taught to us in the name of education and moving backwards from Z towards A, inverting whatever biases we have in our heads, only that can bring true happiness to the society!"

"What an intelligent interpretation!", I thought. Continuing this idea, I said, "Ya absolutely. The author believes in the reversal of tradition. Some of his forms look like inverted human faces to me and he stands for inversion of dogmas, change and revolution." I was soaking in this revelation that had occurred to me when Mr. Natwar Shah, the great painter (now perhaps legendary for me) himself arrived at the exhibition. I was eager to know his interpretation of the painting and I was so glad that I had decided to come to the exhibition.

Mr. Shah began by signing each of his paintings and each sign of his led to thunderous applause from his fans (me now one of them :) ). After signing a few paintings, he reached us. After seeing so many gathered around a painting of his, he took a look at this painting. He looked infuriated when his eyes met the painting. "I am so sorry for this", he apologized to us. "Ramu", he shouted at the top of voice while we were bewildered at what was happening. Ramu, the caretaker of the gallery arrived almost immediately at Mr. Shah's call. "Can't you see a painting and put it up? Why have you put this on display upside down? Change this, you idiot".

I felt naked. And perhaps all those who ACT like mad men did!


payal said...



Sainath Salian said...

Hehe.. I myself never figured what those paintings ever meant..

A heavy interpretation...
Abstract painting is transforming your present unstable state to paper and feel relieved. Then, someone ends up paying for it keeping in mind reason he painted it so as to avoid instability state!

namrataghadi said...


Poseidon said...

Haha... man I always wondered about those paintings, thinking I was dyslexic not to get the meaning.. glad I'm not alone. Yay... I'm not a mad man.

workhard said...


That was funny...

Abstract paintings still amaze me..

Sometimes i wish i could do something like that..

Work from home

workhard said...
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About Me

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I believe happiness and bliss is the birthright of every individual. I believe that God is like an ocean and man is like a drop in the ocean, both have the same properties and one is just another. I do not recognize a God who punishes, who is different from me. All things - good or bad - yes, even the bad ones start in God and end in God. I dont believe in the start or end of time. I believe I am the frame of reference, the refered and the act of refering.
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