Placed in Bento Miguel, an Indo-Portuguese architectural building in Panaji, the artworks on display for Serendipity Arts Festival, have their own charm and present Goan reality through the eyes of 30 Goan artists. NT BUZZ in conversation with project curator Vivek Menezes finds out about this exhibition titled ‘The Invisible River of Konkani Surrealism’ that will be open for public viewing till January 10
SHERAS FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
Spread across numerous venues in Panaji, Serendipity Arts Festival has put to use the structures dating back to the colonial and pre-colonial periods. The artworks on display at the Bento Miguel building near Head Post Office, Patto, Panaji speak of the bygone eras and the current scenario in Goa. The unique works are by reputed artists and curated by Vivek Menezes. Through the exhibition titled ‘The Invisible River of Konkani Surrealism’ the artists have presented the Goan reality. Even today there are many artists whose works are not recognised and this exhibition aims to bring them into the limelight. The exhibition has on display works of 30 artists across all ages – legendary artist Laxman Pai who is in his 90’s as well as another budding artist Siddharth Kerkar who is in his twenties.
The art gallery houses some of the best modern and contemporary art that have a Goa connect. The artists here include Viraj Naik whose work shows how natives were oppressed when the Portuguese came to Goa in 1510 and how they brought along with them cashew and other spices and forced this culture upon the natives. “Similarly Loretti Joyce Pinto through her paintings expresses profound loss owing to people opting for Portuguese passport by surrendering their Indian passport and destruction of heritage in her village Siridao,” says Vivek. Pradip Naik in his artwork has presented the relics of the Renaissance period connected to Goan history through fibre glass reproduction. Santosh Morajkar has reacted to his surroundings and presented it in the form of multiple human-sized sculptures that rightly complement the artworks on display.
As you walk up the stairs of the renovated structure you will see photos of abodes hanging on the wall corresponding to the year it was constructed in. Kalidas Mhamal has photographed houses in Goa that date back to the colonial area, titled ‘Buildings – Eyewitnesses of History’. Another interesting artwork by Mhamal shows the conversion from other faiths to Christianity by the Portuguese. “Although the people were converted to Christianity they were still loyal to their faith and continued wearing the sacred thread worn by Hindus, however, they adopted a similar way of living like the Catholics,” says Vivek. The ‘mand’ – a sacred place where communities would get together and discuss on topics affecting them have been slowly dying and Rohit Bhosle in his works has presented this harsh reality. “Shilpa Mayekar has collected broken Macau crockery that was brought and dumped in Goa by the colonisers. With the help of the broken pieces she has recreated artworks showing loss and reclamation,” says Vivek.
Siddharth is one of the youngest artists at the exhibition and it is interesting to see how this youngster has presented a complex topic with so much ease. He has used ants through a video projection to explain the concept of addiction, and how some people who get into it perish while others successfully manage to get out of it.
Barges are a common sight sailing through the rivers in Goa for many years, but with the ban on mining they have been docked ashore which has led to corrosion. “Raj Bhandare has created an artwork titled ‘Goddess of Barges – Bargewati’ which has been made using the scrapped parts collected from such barges,” says Vivek. Kedar Dhondu has created an intimate work about faith – rosary and the scapular.
An important feature of this exhibition is the recreation of Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ into a Goan work titled ‘Guar-nica’. “Sandesh Naik in his work has used the state animal – Guar depicting how there is destruction of heritage, culture and introduction of several other activities that adversely affect society,” says Vivek. Sonia Rodrigues Sabharwal has shown two eras – golden era and the coal era. The golden age dates back to the times when Kadambas ruled Goa but the latter is about the coal issue being faced now,” says Vivek.
An entire storey is dedicated to artworks by eminent artists including Bisaji Gadekar, Vitesh Naik, Laxman Pai, Vamona Navelcar, Hitesh Pankar, Siddesh Naik and Kaushalya Gadekar. While the first three artists have exhibited Goan culture in their artworks, Vamona has painted The Last Supper of Jesus with the twelve apostles. Siddesh Naik has recreated Michelangelo’s Pietà, but with an interesting facet in which the God of death, Yama is looking at Jesus in Mother Mary’s arms. “This work has received a lot of criticism as many feel that there is an error in the painting,” says Vivek.
Some other artists whose works are on display include Theodore Mesquita, Harshada Kerkar, Conrad Pinto, Ranjit Hoskote, Sadguru Chendvankar, Rajeshri Thakkar, Ryan Abreu, Aadhi Vishal, Nirupa Naik, Shripad Gurav, Siddharth Gosavi, Soumitrimayee Paital, Karishma D’ Souza, Chaitali Morajkar and Yolanda de Souza.
(The exhibition will be open for public viewing till January 10)