How we see women...

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 13 March 2018

In conversation with senior artists, G A Dandekar and Shashikant Bane, who are displaying their paintings in an exhibition titled ‘Feminine’. The exhibition is on at Indiaart Gallery.

What better way to commemorate International Women’s Day than by holding a painting exhibition that celebrates the facets of womanhood? Milind Sathe of Indiaart Gallery, who has curated the ongoing exhibition, says, “I have invited 13 artists, men and women, from across the country to display their works in the physical space — the gallery. Their subject is woman. I have also put limited edition of paintings by women artists, who are displaying their art work (not their depiction of females) in the online space. There are sculptures too.”

Sathe then goes on to explain the exhibition titled ‘Feminine’ at the gallery. “We have senior names like G A Dandekar, Kabari Mukherjee, Shashikant Bane displaying their ideas of womanhood. For some, she is sensuous; for others she is strict and stern; another artist has captured her in her homemaker avatar. Besides the diversity of subjects, you will also find diversity in styles and geographical settings,” adds Sathe.

Dandekar has used oils as his medium, while Mukherjee has gone back to ‘tempera on paper’ style. She has used pigments made from natural material. 

Here we talk to Dandekar and Bane about their art styles and the subject of the exhibition. 

What’s in a form?
There’s beauty in every form; Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Senior figurative painter Gajanan Dandekar’s artworks are summed up in these two lines. The retired professor of JJ School of Art, Mumbai is displaying about seven of his figurative paintings of women, in various scenarios, at the ongoing exhibition. 

Dandekar has chosen to define his women rooted in tradition. Says the Mumbai-based artist, “I have spent my early years in Sangli. I came to Mumbai to study at J J School of Art and later began teaching there. The rural milieu has always stimulated my creative pursuits.” 

A landscape artist, Dandekar turned to figurative painting, when he began teaching the course to his students at the college. When asked to explain ‘figure’, the artist says, “I don’t adhere to certain prescribed standards of beauty — slim is not always beautiful, nor should dusky skin tone be ignored. Also, your surroundings affect the way you look, dress and feel. Women in Karnataka have different way of dressing, from females in Rajasthan. Their jewellery is different. The nose ring or stud worn in their right nostril looks beautiful on them. I think all this cumulatively adds up to ‘figure’.”

“The artist in me connects with women in traditional atmospheres — women gathered at temples, or village fairs, buying or selling wares in bazaar, wearing a string of flowers in their hair etc,” he adds. 

The artist looks up to them as the creator of nature, and society as we know it. “Women can give birth. We need to respect her for genesis,” he says and concludes. 

ST Reader Service 
The exhibition is on at Indiaart Gallery, Bhosale Nagar, till April 6, 11 am - 8 pm

The hard-working females
Growing up in Devrukh, Konkan, Shashikant Bane has always been impressed and captivated by the women working in the paddy fields, and the fisherwomen, who walked long distances to the market with their catch. Besides documenting their day-to-day lifestyle, the artist was also interested in how the men and women dressed. 
“The fisherfolk wore certain clothes that don’t cause them any hindrance in their work. The sarees are draped in a certain way. The women, young girls who graze the cattle, used to wear a blouse and parkar (saree petticoat). Now, as these communities have assimilated in the mainstream community, the younger generations are not keen to wear their traditional attire. Girls and young women have switched to Punjabi dress,” he adds.
Bane, who visits Konkan every fortnight or so, finds lyrical beauty in the swaying of palm trees and the bobbing of vessels in the sea. He also shares a deep bond with the koliwadas, where the fisherfolk stay. “I stay in Virar neighbourhood in Mumbai. The kolis have stayed in their wadas for several years in Vasai and Virar. But now the wadas are being razed down to build apartment blocks. I want to document this piece of history before it all disappears,” informs Bane.

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