Graphic novelist, Amruta Patil’s retrospective exhibition titled ‘Altar-Mundo Goa’ which marks its debut at the Serendipity Arts Festival this year is on till today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Institute Menezes Braganza Hall, Panaji. NT BUZZ gets you the details
ANNOUSHKA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ
As part of the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF), Amruta Patil will be displaying an exhibition titled ‘Altar-Mundo Goa’ a retrospective of drawings and paintings representing the past 11 years of her life and other stages. This exhibition is also known as the movable altar that takes inspiration from Earnest Hemingway’s book ‘The Moveable Feast’, which chronicles his life in Paris. Being India’s first female graphic novelist, Patil has made her debut at the SAF this year.
Having grown up in Goa, Patil earned her degree at the Goa College of Art, Altinho. “It’s very special,” she says describing what it feels to be back in Goa.
“There are so many memories tied up with the location and with the Institute Menezes Braganza Building. It’s not a generic space, it’s like homecoming to me and I’ve come back at the right time. I’ve come back with a body of work that reversed and it’s beautiful,” says Patil.
Her interest in art began when she was quite little, says Patil. In fact, Patil has depicted this stage of her life through art. “My mother would give me a paper and crayons to play with and I would be writing, scribbling since then, and I have shown that in my art when you enter the exhibition,” she adds.
Patil has depicted various stages of her life in this exhibition through her drawings and paintings, and being a graphic novelist she doesn’t just paint but writes as well. “I think for a lot of writers, their writing journey is very closely connected to their psychological journey and in that it is not unusual for your preoccupations to often end up in your work and that is a fairly normal way for many writers to go around,” she says.
Patil describes her exhibits as hybrids which also give people a chance to enter the life of an artist. “In a way my exhibition is a way for people to engage in a hybrid form because it has images, paintings and collages. It has all these things but it also has text and it’s a chance for people to enter the interior life of an artist and learn to engage in a totally different form, and I hope people see it like that,” says Patil.
While her exhibition features the various stages in her life, her first story ‘Kari’ was an urban contemporary story about young people. Her latest graphic novel ‘Aranyaka: Book of the Forest’ features mythological aspects. Having used the Mahabharata and Puranas as a base for her story, she says that she has chosen to narrate the story through a different perspective. “I used the narrator or the sutradhar that were normally not the kind of people who told the story in the Hindu tradition. Normally, it’s a certain section of society that gets to tell the story, but here I choose people who were outside of the usual predictable circle. So as soon as you have an outlier narrative the stories themselves change,” she says.
Patil’s first novel ‘Kari’ was entirely black and white and for this novel she has chosen to work with colour she adds. “The stories were full of environments that demanded that and it would not have worked in black in white,” says Patil.
Patil’s work has also been recognised by the government of India. In 2017 she was awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar by the President of India for her contribution to the cause of women’s empowerment. However, she says, her life is not defined by the awards she receives. “It’s sweet to get these things. For me it was amusing that somebody in the government was reading graphic novels. That was amusing to me, as it was a queer graphic novel. I enjoyed receiving an award from a government which is considered as not very open-minded,” she says.