Last month, Art & Soul Gallery, Mumbai, proudly presented the retrospective, Manu Parekh, 60 Years of Selected Works with over 150 works at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai, with an accompanying book of the same title in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Iconic architect Dr.Balkrishna V Doshi inaugurated the exhibition and artist Sudhir Patwardhan released the book, Manu Parekh, 60 Years of Selected Works, which examines the breadth of Parekh’s career – from the 1960s to the present. Over 250 of his works are included, representing important aspects of his oeuvre. We see his exploration of ritual in the late 1970s, the legendary paintings inspired by the Bhagalpur blindings and his enduring fascination with the holy city of Banaras, which he has explored in great depth over many decades. Through its exploration of the rich body of Parekh’s work, this book provides unique insights into one of India’s most important painters. The book also includes a late-career highlight – a monumental work of ‘heads’, completed in 2017, that is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. “This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of artworks spanning nearly six decades of a long, creative career that demonstrates the depth and diversity of Parekh’s practice. For this exhibition, the artist presents key series entitled Early Works, Rituals & Abstract, Animals, Still Life, Heads and Banaras Landscape.

This show also includes a collection of drawings that illustrate his creative process. Parekh is an important modernist known for his remarkable work related to the city of Varanasi (Banaras) that reflects upon his knowledge of the landscape, mapping significant sites of personal and social importance,” said Adwaita Gadanayak, director general, NGMA.One of India’s most inventive painters, Parekh, through his early work, explored the relationship between man and nature – which, according to him, was an energetic link that had to be celebrated. Since then, contradictions have formed the basis of his artistic practice – no matter the subject or genre of his works. Polemics have always intrigued him; the energy of the organic form and the inherent sexuality within these forms are intangible elements in his works. His paintings provoke viewers to take notice of the world around them through the emotion, pain and anguish expressed in the subjects of his paintings. His colours and forms exude a volatile energy that can barely be contained within the confines of the canvas, and become an extension of his personality. “To gauge the breadth and depth of Manubhai’s oeuvre is unfathomable. His journey has been long and deeply enriched and influenced by his diverse experiences amidst craftspeople in rural India, and these are now woven on to his canvases… We also present his sketchbooks, which are fascinating narratives of his day-to-day life and weave a story of their own – no less fascinating than a dialogue with this mesmerising personality. We hope that through this large exhibit of 150 works at the NGMA, Mumbai, Parekh’s art will be seen contextually in the unique space it occupies in the cultural landscape of contemporary Indian art and painters,” expressed Tarana Khubchandani, director, Art & Soul Gallery, Mumbai.

 

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