Chitra Santhe 2015

It was my first art event. I was drawn into it very easily, by the clothes that people wore at first and then by the paintings. I noticed that people brought kids to art events. I was more surprised that photography was allowed in some stalls and prohibited in one, maybe two. I gasped at the first painting I saw there. It was a painting of  a galli.

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The boxes on the cement floor were uneven but looked compact, like a completed jigsaw puzzle. Two men were on their cycles, riding. They have very little face so I cannot say what they look like. There is water on the ground, it looks washed because there are blotchy reflections of white all over. There is no sun but the light is fading into the corners of the canvas. Above their heads, there are bits of cloth and paper strung together with ropes.They are yellow and white. The sidewalls in the shop are lined with packets of chips. There are men who are walking down the galli. Some are standing in a group at the far end of the painting. One half of a black tawa is visible in the corner of the painting. It looks very much at peace, like a man whose one ear goes missing in a photograph. Tin roofs jut out their tongues all along the street. Beyond this, there is a white building and this is where the painting ends.

I found this to be rather interesting. I realized that I was more drawn into paintings like these where there is nothing on the canvas beyond a point, unlike most other landscape paintings which stretch into the unknown. A road, the sky, a curve. It leads you further into its depths. I found myself dismissing these. I turned to look at other paintings that have no beyond, that are still, like the canvas.

Like this one. I liked how the light yawns into the courtyard and then cuts off.

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When I wasn’t salivating on my clothes, I was listening to people. A couple was fighting because he wanted the painting with the cupboard full of books to go into the kitchen and she wanted it to go on the drawing room wall. I was ashamed of how many times I caught myself debating the same issues in my head. I didn’t care about where the money to buy either a flat or these paintings would come from. I was busy deciding where I would put each. The painting of the woman smoking and showing her back would go above my writing desk, you know for inspiration. The painting of the galli had to be shown off as though I painted it so that would go above the sofa.

Also, who wears white chiffon sarees to art events? I wouldn’t know. But some people do. And I love-hated them.

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