Miniature artists’ take on life

Still Life: Gautam Bhatia & Shankar Bhopa explore birth and death


March 30, 2021

/ By / Delhi

Miniature artists’ take on life

Still Life was on feature from March 24 – March 31, 2021 in Bikaner House, Delhi (MIG photos/Palak Chawla)

“Still Life” Gautam Bhatia's joint exhibition with Shankar Bhopa currently on at Bikaner House in New Delhi is a delight to walk through and ponder about the transient idea of life.

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Gautam Bhatia and Shankar Bhopa’s attempt to represent the uncertain progression of life reflects beautifully in the series of paintings and sculptures created by them, the otherwise in-animate paintings appear to be brimming with life.

The architect’s latest creation, in collaboration Shankar Bhopa, another miniature artist from Jaipur, is an amalgamation of 205 miniature paintings and 12 bronze sculptures depicting the sequence of life. The showcase has been divided into segments of love, home, ambition, life, society, faith, celebration, ageing and passing. The miniature paintings set in a series are put together in such a way that there appears to be a connection between frames as one gives way to the next.

The title of the show Still Life is a paradox. “Life is never really still, it is constantly changing, I think that is why we decided to call our show Still Life as it signifies that even in the stillness of life, change is a constant,” says Bhatia. His show follows the idea that material also withers and goes to ruins, just like living objects.

Each of the thought provoking series begin with an explanation by the creator himself. One of them, Ambition Calls, follows the story of appetite for power and luxury growing with time before finally crumbling to dust.

Unwashed City demonstrates the growth of a city in a bathtub. The city being built in a bathtub, which eventually overflows due to excessive construction and eventually being washed away through a leak in the tub,” Gautam Bhatia tells Media India Group. The paintings represent  how construction can be a form of environmental desecration.

Another series, Family Reunion, follows the theme of religion, traditions and customs. The family posing for the portrait is exactly the same in all three paintings whereas the holy place in the background changes, depicting that even though humans have created different customs, religions and cultures, everyone is the same in the sight of god.

Bronze sculpture by Gautam Bhatia, titled “Selfie Circa 1950”

Yet another three painting miniseries, Call of Nature, focuses on how humans have severed their connection with nature. “It is meant to be a reflection on how we have completely ignored nature and the only way to get nature back into our lives is to paint it on the window shade, when the window is open you look out onto a complete blank space but when you slowly start closing the window nature appears and when you completely shut it is when you can actually see the entire picture,” explains Bhatia.

Through each series Bhatia has attempted to throw light on some serious issues facing the society, ranging from migrant crisis to the repercussions of overburdening the nature with construction.

The sculptures displayed at the exhibition, tell a story of their own. They cover diverse themes ranging from the Selfie Circa 1950,a satire based on the idea of contemporary selfie culture, to Toothpaste of migrants, on the problems faced by the migrants in India.

The duo’s show not only depicts the predicaments but also symbolises hope for a better future through the ideas of rebirth from ruin and decay. “Things die, there’s grief. Things remain beautiful, even in sorrow,” writes Bhatia.



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