I have blogged before about this wonderful initiative. At the time it was in Noida but more recently the Museum has opened a new branch in an unconventional setting perhaps even controversial. It occupies a large part of the ground floor in South Court DLF Saket Mall. Yes, a shopping Mall, that haven of Indian free time. There is some method in the madness or so I would like to believe, in that the art work which is completely free and open to the public is so approachable,so inclusive- half an hour to kill between your big Mac and the next shopping frenzy ?- pop into the gallery and BE AMAZED.
The surroundings are smooth, streamlined and beautifully lit. The paintings and art work are hung and displayed to maximum effect. This is one of the only places you can escape the congestion of the street as there are few bodies wandering around in here but there is a little part of me which wants to return to it seeing it crammed full of interested onlookers.
The aim is undoubtedly to bring art closer to the people, to make it more accessible and as I spoke with the assistant curator it was obvious that ambitious programmes were afoot to devise workshops and projects which would have that effect. I built a bridge immediately and put her in touch with Salaam Baalak Trust so it will be lovely to watch and report what comes out of that initiative.
The gallery is divided into rooms where a particular theme or subject is displayed. The Body Room with the captivating casts of A Balasubramania of South India, capturing his own body in contorted shapes, deflated, distorted, elated and shadowed are particularly powerful.
The fabulous fibreglass elephant of Bharti Kher whose bindi work all over the body lends itself to countless interpretations.We walked round and round the elephant, a tired one, a dying one, a weighed down one, listing all that come into our head just viewing this piece of art work that must have taken months of careful planning and hugely detailed work to create.
The impressive and expensive art work or S.H Raza and how his background as the son of a forestry official was influential in his choice of colours and shades when creating his abstract art.
Mrinalinis Mukerherjees upright and proud jute work of orchids and flowers and suggestive female sexual organs are staggering in their complexity and composition as are the iron works of Ranjani Shettar that fill a whole room with the most delicate creations suspended in mid air.
A room celebrating Ghandi, a room celebrating the city and urbanization, many more. One art work which I particularly liked by Surekha was "The Fragrance of Jasmine" with her representations of women and children wearing the braids of jasmine in their hair which are shown to us by way of a mirror through a photograph. Beautiful in the simplicity of its execution but complex in its message. The museum is open to the public and is a treasure of creativity, originality and imagination. These are the kind of gifts I am ready to embrace on all levels.