Artist Mario Miranda has sketched Goa’s beauty like no other artist could. Almost every Goan has grown up seeing his cartoons and illustrations that speak about Goa, a rare sight of late. But, now these sketches have been preserved in a book – ‘The Life of Mario: 1949’ – which is part of the series based on the diaries which Mario kept during his formative days as artist. This book will be released today, April 30, to commemorate 90th birth anniversary of Mario Miranda on May 2
ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ
If we had a time-machine, most of us would have gone back to our childhood and days of our youth. Those times seem really exciting and fulfilling. Even though it’s not possible, one can definitely get that feel after reading the diary of artist and cartoonist Mario Miranda. These diaries which were written and sketched by Mario while in his early 20s are an insight to his early life and the fun times he had with his friends while growing up.
May 2 is Mario’s 90th birth anniversary and on this occasion architect and editor Gerard Da Cunha is releasing the book ‘The Life of Mario: 1949’ on April 30 at Gallery Gitanjali, Panaji. This book is the third of the series based on Mario’s diaries which he kept in the 1940s and 1950s. The other two books – ‘The Life of Mario: 1951’ was released in 2011 and ‘The Life of Mario: 1950’ in 2002. It took four years to release Mario’s third diary. “Publishing hard copy books in the age of the internet is becoming financially unviable. However this extraordinary story must be told and what better occasion than Mario’s 90th birthday,” says Gerard. He has edited and published this new book, ‘The Life of Mario: 1949’ along with many other books on Mario Miranda under the name ‘Architecture Autonomous.’
While drawing parallels between diary of 1950 and diary of 1949, Gerard says, “There obviously are many similarities between the two diaries. However Mario the artist is evolving very rapidly in terms of storytelling and composition in this diary of 1949. Mario is just 22 and there is an innocence about him and his life which is compelling.”
Yes, there is this sense of innocence, which is quite evident in the diary of 1949. Like his other diaries, this diary also gives an account of events held on particular days. Every page is dated and is filled with illustrations and captions in Portuguese. However all these captions are translated into English by Nalini Souza.
‘The Life of Mario: 1949’ is an excellent storyboard about the Goan village, its people and various events that they are a part of. However, unlike his other two published diaries this diary has more of black and white sketches. “This diary is largely in black and white though he intersperses it with many landscapes of Goa which are in colour. Mario is slowly experimenting with colour and most of 1951 and 1952, which is incomplete, are in colour,” says the artist’s chronicler.
Mario’s diaries are also an excellent source to study socio-political situation of a village at that time. His portrayal of the church, communidade meetings and also elections tell us a lot. Mario in a very funny way has illustrated the serving of free mutton xacuti and wine to voters during elections. Gerard adds, “Mario’s ‘sociological’ studies of the village which includes local elections and the church are fascinating. Mario and his gang are also great dance organisers with mixed results. There is an exodus of his friends moving out of Goa and there are many touching farewells.”
Looking at these pages one also gets an insight into Mario’s eye for detail, for which he is always praised. Showing crowd, people, their costumes, their expressions and emotions, clearly presents Goa of 1949 and yet these illustrations are timeless.
When asked which of the diaries is his favourite, Gerard responds: “All the diaries are wonderful and it is difficult to rank them. One however can safely say that in the diary of 1949, Mario is much more serious, works harder and is more productive.”
He is now also in the process of printing diary of 1947, which should be completed by next year. He further confirms that publishing books now is not financially viable as people are not buying books any more.
Exhibition of pocket cartoons
On April 30, along with the release of the book, there will be also an inauguration of pocket cartoons of Mario Miranda. “These pocket cartoons are culled from the archive of his editorial art. These cartoons transcends time and socio-political context to bear testament to the gentle, empathetic wit and keen observation with which Mario chose to engage with the issues, challenges and quirks of life around him. As these cartoons have a gentle wit, that’s why I named this collection ‘Pocket Full of Chuckles,” says Miriam Koshy Sukhija of Gallery Gitanjali.
These pocket cartoons are a collection of works spread across five decades and include those which were published in the Economic Times. “In the year 1953 Mario moved to Mumbai and started working for Times of India newspaper and then moved to Illustrated Weekly of India and many other publications. These cartoons are quite rare and depict the socio-political situation. An almost off-the-cuff historian, his work came to play a subtle role in the formation of a certain public cognizance of the human condition in the contemporary and historical frameworks of those times,” says Miriam.
This exhibition will have on display 60 pocket cartoons and 14 larger sized collections. These are original works and not prints and are for sale. The collection will also have a series of pictures he illustrated for the book ‘Inside Goa’.
Miriam also states that most of the original work of Mario Miranda is now with private collectors. So, this exhibition is an opportunity to get to know Mario and his work, up close and personal.
On a concluding note when asked whether Mario is well celebrated in his home state, Gerard says, “To the general Goan (not necessarily the art critics), Mario is the greatest artist of all time. They know his work intimately and they honour him and display his work in their homes and gift it to their friends. Has the state of Goa done enough to honour him? There have been good initiative like the Mario Miranda Chair at the Goa University, but a lot more needs to be done.”
(Gallery Gitanjali, Fontainhas, Panaji is hosting opening of “A Pocketful of Chuckles”, on April 30 at 6 p.m . This will be followed by the release ‘The Life of Mario: 1949.’ The exhibition will continue till May 21. On May 2 to celebrate Mario’s birthday, there will be a free concert on at 7.30 p.m. at the Amphitheatre of the museum Houses of Goa at Torda, Porvorim. It will feature The Cotta Family and Sonia Shirsat and her group. All these events are open to all.)