Getting a Facelift

The National Gallery of Modern Art is going for a makeover, creating an open interactive environment to connect with the masses

Getting a Facelift
Getting a Facelift

The famous Dali’s ashtray will soon be on display at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) along with Hussain and many progressive Indian artists.

A huge collection of 4000 exquisite art pieces have been acquired from Air India through the Ministry of Art and Culture.

This premier national institute is ready for its new makeover, according to NGMA director general Adwaita Gadanayak.

“We are in the process and after restoration, everything will be on display at the Jaipur House,” he says.

Jaipur House, that houses NGMA, is the former residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur in Delhi and was designed by CG Blomfield, after the construction of Lutyens' Delhi, in 1936.

As the story of ashtray goes, Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí popularly known as Salvador Dalí, a versatile and prolific Spanish surrealist of 20th century, was commissioned to create ashtray for “The Maharaja” or Air India.

“The design was in the shape of a round shell with a serpent around its perimeter, supported by two headstands – an elephant on one side and a swan on the other. In return a baby elephant flew to Dali on The Maharaja,” recalls Gadanayak.

Rare artifacts, he says, will be on display at the gallery.

“There are paintings by Hussain and many eminent artists, acquired by Air India for Rs 5000 in those days. Booklets providing details of cuisines served to former prime ministers and famous dignitaries are few other interesting things that would be on display,” he adds.

The premier institute is going for a facelift after opening many centers across India.

The plan is to create openness and connect with the masses, says Gadanayk, sharing his vision to have a sculpture park within NGMA Delhi, flaunting work of contemporary artists. About eight eminent sculptors will be invited to open their show along with existing small sculptures that are already on display at the lawns. NGMA will also host live music and dance performances, he says.

It recently held a workshop where more than 150 doctors came and tried their hands in painting, sketches, expressing their creative instincts through poetry and music and visual art.

This is in fact an ongoing process through which this institute of modern and contemporary Indian art is aiming to connect with people.

For Gadanayak this is an endevour to reach out and merge people with a penchant for art from all walks of life. He perceives an open environment where people can come forward and perceive art as part of life.

“If we are to create a brand then let it be for the masses to come and interact to learn and discuss new ideas. It is my wish that NGMA should belong to all and help create a new cult in art,as has happened worldwide,” he adds.

The institute has already started a monthly interactive session - “art adda” where people come together and discuss various aspects of art.

The word adda here is meant to be an intellectual discourse to propagate and learn new things where eminent artists, students and people interested come together for a meaningful dicussion, thrashing out new ideas and genres of art.

Taking things on a digital plane, a website -  Sauham –signifying connect with the cosmic consciousness, will talk about various aspects of art on an interactive platform for people to participate and voice their views on contemporary art.

“We thought of creating a digital connect to “art adda” where people can come and connect through Facebook and other social media. There would be a regular team who would create dialogues and discussions. It has been beautifully designed. We want people to write about our paintings and give their feedback,” says Gadanayak, who feels the institute needs to be an institute of education to learn though discussions, performances, interactive workshops, archives and library for serious research.

Sauham will have everything from music, art to dance.

NGMA, says Gadanayak, will adorn the hat of holding concerts and events. It is planning to stay open for public till 8.30 pm, where performances would be held. More meaningful discourse will be held at the cafeteria, which is being renovated.

There should be a significance of the historic Jaipur House that houses NGMA, says Gadanayak who feels the central hall should host major exhibitions and performances.

“People have become so individualistic that they don’t talk. Earlier, temples or had everything from science to art to music to dance. We need to revive the culture,” he says.