In Sumathi Ramaswamy's book, Gandhi features as a muse in the works of several Indian artists [Photos]

In her book Gandhi in the Gallery, Sumathi Ramaswamy explores why and how India’s modern and contemporary artists have over the past century sought out Gandhi as their muse and invested in him across a wide range of media from painting and sculpture to video installation and digital production.

FP Staff November 01, 2020 16:24:36 IST
Often described as ‘an artist of non-violence,’ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in his lifetime, did a set of practices of the self and politics that earned him the mantle of 'Mahatma' - the great soul. His philosophy and praxis of satyagraha, non-violent civil disobedience, has been analysed extensively. But is satyagraha also an aesthetic regime, with practices akin to a work of art? Is Gandhi, then, an artist of disobedience? Sumathi Ramaswamy explores these questions with the help of India’s modern and contemporary artists, who with their works, over the years, reveal why this most disobedient of ‘modern’ icons has grabbed their attention, resulting in a veritable art of disobedience as an homage to one of the twentieth century’s great prophets of disobedience | In the picture: Jamini Roy, Gandhi and Tagore c. 1940s. Tempera on card, 38 x 28 cm. With permission of Nirmalya Kumar
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Often described as ‘an artist of non-violence,’ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in his lifetime, did a set of practices of the self and politics that earned him the mantle of 'Mahatma' - the great soul. His philosophy and praxis of satyagraha, non-violent civil disobedience, has been analysed extensively. But is satyagraha also an aesthetic regime, with practices akin to a work of art? Is Gandhi, then, an artist of disobedience? Sumathi Ramaswamy explores these questions with the help of India’s modern and contemporary artists, who with their works, over the years, reveal why this most disobedient of ‘modern’ icons has grabbed their attention, resulting in a veritable art of disobedience as an homage to one of the twentieth century’s great prophets of disobedience | In the picture: Jamini Roy, Gandhi and Tagore c. 1940s. Tempera on card, 38 x 28 cm. With permission of Nirmalya Kumar
Despite his well-stated ambivalence over art for art’s sake, Gandhi has paradoxically emerged as the focus of intense aesthetic contemplation, an inspiring muse like none other of his time or since, the most drawn, painted, sculpted and photographed Indian of his age. In turn, at a time when his words and deeds are more or less forgotten or mis-remembered, the visual artist is Gandhi’s conscience keeper, reminding us of the meaning of the Mahatma in his own time and today | In the picture: Riyas Komu, 9_11_1906, 2016. Oil on canvas, 182.8 x 137.16 cm. With permission of the artist
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Despite his well-stated ambivalence over art for art’s sake, Gandhi has paradoxically emerged as the focus of intense aesthetic contemplation, an inspiring muse like none other of his time or since, the most drawn, painted, sculpted and photographed Indian of his age. In turn, at a time when his words and deeds are more or less forgotten or mis-remembered, the visual artist is Gandhi’s conscience keeper, reminding us of the meaning of the Mahatma in his own time and today | In the picture: Riyas Komu, 9_11_1906, 2016. Oil on canvas, 182.8 x 137.16 cm. With permission of the artist
Gandhi is the only man among the great public figures and fathers of the nation of the 20th century who made such a public spectacle of his partly-clad body, putting in on visual display repeatedly and consistently | In the picture: Atul Dodiya, Sea-Bath (Before Breaking the Salt Law), 1998. Watercolour on paper, 55.8 x 76.2 cm. With permission of the artist
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Gandhi is the only man among the great public figures and fathers of the nation of the 20th century who made such a public spectacle of his partly-clad body, putting in on visual display repeatedly and consistently | In the picture: Atul Dodiya, Sea-Bath (Before Breaking the Salt Law), 1998. Watercolour on paper, 55.8 x 76.2 cm. With permission of the artist
A hundred and fifty years after his birth, Gandhi is hyper visible across the Indian landscape from tea stalls and government offices to museums and galleries. This is ironical given that the Mahatma appeared to have had little time for the visual arts or for artists for that matter | In the picture: Gulammohammed Sheikh, Gandhi and Gama, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 288 x 624 cm. With permission of the artist
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A hundred and fifty years after his birth, Gandhi is hyper visible across the Indian landscape from tea stalls and government offices to museums and galleries. This is ironical given that the Mahatma appeared to have had little time for the visual arts or for artists for that matter | In the picture: Gulammohammed Sheikh, Gandhi and Gama, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 288 x 624 cm. With permission of the artist
Many modern and contemporary Indian artists have emerged as Gandhi’s conscience-keepers, reminding others of the meaning of the Mahatma in his own time and today | In the picture: Gopal Swami Khetanchi, Spinning Alive, 2010. Oil on canvas, 106.68 x 106.68 cm. With permission of the artist
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Many modern and contemporary Indian artists have emerged as Gandhi’s conscience-keepers, reminding others of the meaning of the Mahatma in his own time and today | In the picture: Gopal Swami Khetanchi, Spinning Alive, 2010. Oil on canvas, 106.68 x 106.68 cm. With permission of the artist
In the picture: Shrimad Rajchandra Nijabhyas Mandap, n.d. Print published by M Wadilal Co., Amdavad. Reproduced in Adhyãtma Yugapurush Srimad Rajchandra. Image courtesy Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
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In the picture: Shrimad Rajchandra Nijabhyas Mandap, n.d. Print published by M Wadilal Co., Amdavad. Reproduced in Adhyãtma Yugapurush Srimad Rajchandra. Image courtesy Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
Focused on the iconic image of a striding Mahatma, clad in his trademark dhoti and carrying a staff , there are numerous ways in which artists have responded to Gandhi’s imagination of walking as a disobedient practice and as a counter to what he insisted was ‘the organized violence’ of the British government in India | In the picture: Atul Dodiya, Evening Walk on Juhu Beach, 2017. Oil on canvas, 137.16 x 198.12 cm. With permission of the artist
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Focused on the iconic image of a striding Mahatma, clad in his trademark dhoti and carrying a staff , there are numerous ways in which artists have responded to Gandhi’s imagination of walking as a disobedient practice and as a counter to what he insisted was ‘the organized violence’ of the British government in India | In the picture: Atul Dodiya, Evening Walk on Juhu Beach, 2017. Oil on canvas, 137.16 x 198.12 cm. With permission of the artist
In the picture: Vinayak S Masoji, The Midnight Arrest, 1944_ Medium and dimensions not available
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In the picture: Vinayak S Masoji, The Midnight Arrest, 1944_ Medium and dimensions not available
When the Mahatma was alive, he declared that there was an art to dying as there was to living. So, what does Gandhi’s art dying look like when it is materialized as artwork? | In the picture: Maqbool Fida Husain, Assassination of Gandhi, n.d. Acrylic on canvas, 163 x 95 cm. Collection of Srinivas Aravamudan and Ranjana Khanna
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When the Mahatma was alive, he declared that there was an art to dying as there was to living. So, what does Gandhi’s art dying look like when it is materialized as artwork? | In the picture: Maqbool Fida Husain, Assassination of Gandhi, n.d. Acrylic on canvas, 163 x 95 cm. Collection of Srinivas Aravamudan and Ranjana Khanna
In the picture: Svarg Mein Bapu [Gandhi in Heaven], c. 1948. Chromolithograph published by Indian School of Photography, New Delhi, 48.9 x 34.7 cm. Image Courtesy Osianama Research Centre, Archive Library Collection
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In the picture: Svarg Mein Bapu [Gandhi in Heaven], c. 1948. Chromolithograph published by Indian School of Photography, New Delhi, 48.9 x 34.7 cm. Image Courtesy Osianama Research Centre, Archive Library Collection