Amol Palekar-NGMA row: Director general releases statement clarifying advisory committees are not dissolved

  • The statement from the NGMA says the committees' terms ended late last year, and that they are being reconstituted.

  • The statement mentions that the decisions taken by previous committees will be honoured.

  • Apart from the advisory committees, Amol Palekar raised questions about the space allocated to temporary exhibitions; the NGMA said it is deliberating over the availability of less space for temporary exhibitions.

The National Gallery of Modern Art has released a statement on Twitter from its director general Adwaita Gadanayak regarding the issues raised by actor and artist Amol Palekar, about the status of its advisory committees and the space allocated to temporary exhibitions. The statement says the committees have not been dissolved, that their terms ended late last year, and that they are being reconstituted. It also mentions that the decisions taken by the previous committees will be honoured, and that the NGMA is deliberating over the availability of less space for temporary exhibitions.

On 8 February, Amol Palekar had given a speech at the inaugural event of the exhibition 'Inside the Empty Box', a retrospective of works by Prabhakar Barwe. He spoke about Barwe's work, and he touched upon the subject of changes allegedly made to the NGMA's functioning, but was asked to refrain from doing so by the curator of the exhibition Jesal Thacker and NGMA Mumbai's director Anita Rupavataram. He had said that Barwe's retrospective would be the last external exhibition to be shown across all floors of the NGMA, and that future retrospectives of Sudhir Patwardhan and Mehlli Gobhai had been allegedly cancelled.

In particular, he spoke about the alleged dissolution of local advisory committees, who took decisions about the exhibitions which would be organised at the Mumbai and Bengaluru centres of the NGMA, as well as the decision to restrict temporary exhibitions to just one floor. This would mean that the rest of the space could only be allocated to works that were in the NGMA's collection, which he termed a setback to new artists and veterans who wanted to showcase new work.

He said that the former development would mean that the NGMA would function as per the discretion of the Ministry of Culture. When he was asked not to speak about these subjects, Palekar compared the way in which he was being censured to All India Marathi Literary Meet's decision to disinvite Nayantara Sahgal following threats from political parties.

Read on Firstpost — Amol Palekar's speech censored: Row highlights culture ministry's tightening grip on NGMA decision-making

"Views that are not directly related to the subject of the evening can always be expressed at another platform appropriate for that specific concern,” Jesal Thacker said to Scroll. Anita Rupavataram reportedly said, "It would have been good if you had discussed this issue with us personally and not spoken here at the public platform."

In a press conference, Amol Palekar said that he did not expect his speech to be cut short in that manner. He said, "During the discussion after the programme, I had asked Jesal why she did not tell me earlier that I needed to get my speech approved from her. In that case, I would have refused to chair the programme. At that time, Jesal said that she had clear instructions from the director that nothing should be spoken against the government during the programme."

At the same press conference, his wife Sandhya Gokhale said, “The director said that she is not connected with art and she did not know about Barwe either.” Palekar added, “These people, who are not connected with art, are going to take decisions now? This is a serious issue for us as art connoisseurs and artistes.”

Updated Date: Feb 12, 2019 10:15:17 IST