If you are among those who have seen and loved Umrao Jaan by Muzaffar Ali, then this is for you. Thanks to Hyderabad-based Kalakriti, 43 creations by the film-maker, designer-author are on display. Titled The Other Side, the exhibition includes some of his most recent work created during the lockdown period.
Though he has been painting since his days as a student, when he worked extensively with oils, this collection is a reflection of Muzaffer Ali’s fascination for collages. ‘I started on creating collages way back in 1972 as I had developed an allergy to oil paint and realised collages were an organic way of expressing something,’ the film-maker says. When he discovered the ‘power of acrylic’, he added the medium to his arsenal, and ‘continued experimenting between sketching, acrylic and collages.’ The lockdown gave him enough’ time to play with the geometry of the mind, and in creating collages, he found a way to ‘delve deeper into the Self, guided by the philosophy and the deep interest in Sufism and Rumi that held my hand.’
(A section of Converging Landscape - 1, 2016)
Many of the collages that represent his recent work and are on exhibition are centred around leaves, or a single leaf. Picked up during the daily evening walks on the lawns surrounding his house, Muzaffar Ali realised that ‘every leaf tells its own story.’ To him the leaf speaks of the philosophy of surrender, a Sufi story of the final stage of annihilation. Muzaffar uses his favourite ‘raw umber and brown ‘ colours to draw out the symphony of the leaves.
In contrast, are the paintings of horses, another favourite theme. Here too the subject of his painting is seen as a symbol of the spiritual; ‘You can’t explain a horse’, he says, ‘they are almost mystical.’ His horses are brooding figures with watchful eyes, yet immersed in themselves. He ‘draws them easily,’ and they are not aggressive animals, with the foam gathering at the corners of their mouth, but painted in a way that seeks to capture the expression of their unique souls.
(Mixed media works (leaves) Untitled 2019 )
Combining art with technology in a manner that bypasses the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the Kalakriti At Gallery has created a new level of engagement for the visitor or buyer that is completely interactive and much more than just a website experience. Using virtual reality or VR technology, in collaboration with Terapact, the experience creates the possibility of a real time 3-D exhibition and an art gallery walkthrough. According to the curator, ‘Using a simple touch interface or a VR headset, visitors can fully experience the art gallery, walk through any gallery space, interact with embedded media content and visualize artworks in real space as well as make an enquiry or a purchase’.
‘Of course, Hyderabad-based art lovers can make an appointment and walk in to look at or buy the creations,’ says Rekha Lahoti, Founder of the Kalakriti Foundation and CEO of Kalakriti India. ‘The 5000 sq ft space allows social distancing and safe interactions. But anyone interested can span the distance virtually by clicking on the link to the gallery.’
Lahoti who decided to hold the exhibition after a chance conversation with the film maker on his fascination with leaves, adds that she was not a bit surprised when two paintings were sold even before the formal opening of the show, which is on for the next ten days.
(Keeper of Secrets - 1, 2014 | Keeper of Secrets 2014 )
Using the link the gallery provided, I took a virtual walk through the gallery. The wide-open space I walked into came alive as the shadowy work hanging on the walls clicked open to show their details. I could zoom in and check out a painting, and walk through the section to enter the second hall. The paintings have been grouped together theme-wise, and opened up vistas of experience for me, as I felt I was no longer inside my home, but in quite another space.
A welcome note by the artist adds a personal touch. All paintings are available to buyers.
If you wish to feast your senses and try to catch the spiritual theme embedded in these seemingly simple and graceful creations, or whether you plan to have one of them hanging on your wall, take a virtual tour. All you have to do is click on http://virtual.kalakriti.in/
For viewing the virtual gallery, please visit: http://virtual.kalakriti.in/