miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2018

To India, with love | The Indian Express

To India, with love | The Indian Express

To India, with love

French artist Michel Testard captures everyday reality of India in his works

Written by Pallavi Chattopadhyay | Updated: May 22, 2018 12:15:29 am
To India, with love
French artist Michel Testard

In one canvas, artist Paresh Maity, wearing his trademark colourful hat and long coat, stands in front of a large painting of his, talking to a television channel, at an India Art Fair in Delhi. A clutch of beautiful people from south Delhi surround him. But, outside the venue, the reality is showcased through bumper-to-bumper traffic and blaring horns that become the norm as soon as the fair begins. The work is just one of the ways in which French artist Michel Testard brings out realities that criss-cross in India. Such musings make up the exhibition, “Glimpses of India: Twenty Years of Wandering by a Firanghi”, at Bikaner House in Delhi.
Glass highrises in Mumbai dominate the work Mad Xima City India. Amid a cloud of pollution caused by electric power plants, huge flyovers, the metro line, trains, port and an explosion of concrete houses, a cluster of cars are seen spilling into the water — red in colour — underneath what appears like the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link. “It doesn’t look tragic but the underlying story is a big question mark. It is saying ‘what are you doing with these huge cities?’ For me it is the biggest challenge that India has in the next 20 years. How are you going to accommodate 300 million people from the rural areas into the cities?” says Testard,67, a strategy consultant.
To India, with loveSerfoji II, the Maratha king who ruled Thanjavur in the late 18th century, turns into Testard’s protagonist — presented as a caricature with his white moustache.
His series on the musicians have been inspired by concerts he has attended of maestros such as Pandit Jasraj and Kishori Amonkar. An avid sitar player, Testard lends a Cubist style twist to his musical trio — a sitarist, tabla player and tanpura player — painted in sharp angles, using simple forms of triangle. Imaginary forts alongside the replicas of the Red Fort and the Mehrangarh Fort in his canvases present another perspective. “I find that the forts reflect history and grandeur but now are crumbling. For me, they are displaying the forces of decay and destruction as part of the Indian cycle,” he says.
Serfoji II, the Maratha king who ruled Thanjavur in the late 18th century, turns into Testard’s protagonist — presented as a caricature with his white moustache. Testard learnt about him during a lecture two years ago. In his canvas, Serfoji II is put on his throne, with a mandir and a lake in the background and a book by one of the most famous French naturalists Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon resting in his hands in a canvas. “He was secluded by the British since he was not a direct descendant. They had a rule that if there was no direct descendant, the British would take over. Serfoji II was allowed to be the king but he was to only stay in his palace or could go to his mandir.
But he had been educated by a Danish priest and he knew Marathi, Tamil, Sanskrit, Malayalam, in addition to Latin, Greek, French and English. He was a great scholar, who expanded his library and brought 400 books of science and technology from England, France and Germany. He was an astronomer, a naturalist and an educationist and even performed cataract surgeries. He was very advanced for his time,” says Testard.
The exhibition is on till May 27.
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