Is this a fish market?

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Explore the various meanings of ‘bazaar’, in a solo exhibition of paintings by Shubha Gokhale

Have you ever been to a fish market? It’s colourful, isn’t it? We mean the people, the language and the scenes. Capturing all this and more is Shubha Gokhale’s Bazaar. While  ‘bazaar’ means ‘market’, this particular series means ‘maasebazaar’ (fish market) and also the ‘catch of the day’.

“When buyers frequent the maasebazaar, they ask ‘Aaj kay bazaar anlay?’ or ‘what catch have you got’?,” explains Gokhale, who has got the ‘bazaar’ to Pune after showing it at Jehangir Art Gallery, in Mumbai, in November 2017. 

Gokhale, who is a Mumbai resident, has been frequenting one fish market regularly, and all the 58 paintings that she is displaying at Art2Day gallery, are this market’s sights and sounds.

“There is lot of scope in Mumbai to go discovering the fish markets in Vasai and Sassoon Dockyards. But I frequent just one place. The subject has been simplistically rendered. But there are layers to be unpeeled and many meanings to be derived,” adds Gokhale, who has been consistently painting for three decades and more. 

The nayika or heroine of her series is ‘Matsyagandha’. She is the representative of all the  fisherwomen that she has met in the market. “When I started working on the series, I asked for their permission to click photographs. These were the women I had been interacting for years. On hearing my request, they said, ‘Don’t put them on internet’. I then told them, ‘When the paintings are ready, you won’t be able to identify yourself. They won’t look like you. So this Matsyagandha isn’t one woman,” she explains. 

Gokhale, who has earlier worked on ‘puppet’ and ‘nudes’ series, says that if she has to do ‘bazaar’ series again, which she isn’t planning to, it will be quite different from the ones she has done. 

“For this series, I have used oils on treated handmade paper to get different textures and effects. I also do a lot of cloth collage. Here, I have got 3D effect for my paintings using acrylic sheets instead of glass. The painting is in reverse, as you would see from a glass, and behind it is a cloth collage. The 3D effect is in totality,” adds the artist.

The effect of using oil on handmade paper can be particularly seen in the painting which has depicted iceboxes covered in thermocols. They have a white, rough texture. You can see a similar effect on thalis seen in the paintings.

Usually, the ‘leftover’ from her art work is seen in her handcrafted jewellery pendants. “I haven’t done a puppet series after the first one. But the puppets and florals are seen in my craft work, that is in the jewellery, I design. Fish designs too have a place in the designs,” she says and concludes.

ST Reader Service 
Shubha Gokhale’s ‘Bazaar’ is on at Art2Day Gallery, above Skoda showroom, Bhandarkar Road, till February 11. You can visit the exhibition from 11 am to 6 pm.

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