Celebrated director Muzaffar Ali’s lesser-known but equally powerful artistic engagements outside of cinema are set for a milestone public view from next week, as select paintings, collages, sketches and designed objects of the 78-year-old polymath will be on eleven days of display in the capital.
The January 11-21 ‘Muzaffar Ali’ exhibition at Bikaner House near India Gate will throw light on a variety of mediums that have kept the multifaceted artist busy beyond the world of movies. Curated by scholar-author Uma Nair, the pioneering show by Masha Art will feature a comprehensive body of the artist’s works in the past four decades.
Even as his first movie Gaman (1978) and Umrao Jaan three years later catapulted Muzaffar to instant fame, his primary engagement with art has been with the brush and colours. That has been the case in times as recent as the peak Covid-19 months last year, during which he conceived and completed big-size paintings that will be also feature at the upcoming event. The show will be open from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. on all days.
“My relationship with sketch-pen and brush, crayon and acrylic and oil is both organic and scientific. All my hazy graduation knowledge of geology, botany and chemistry creates subtle cerebral bridges of a visual grammar,” notes Muzaffar, who was born into an erstwhile royal family in Lucknow. “Today they reflect my childlike ignorance and inquisitiveness. Yet they stand out in my art as I celebrate the itch in my hands to draw.”
In fact, Muzaffar as a painter debuted way back in 1970 at a group exhibition in Bombay curated by cultural historian Geeti Sen. “My drawing is sacred, it is private. It is a mirror to my impulsive and impatient mind,” adds the veteran of half-a-dozen feature movies and 21 short films.
Scholar Uma Nair, who spent one year to curate the show, divided it into thematic chapters of creativity. Muzaffar’s works essay his “pronounced love for the earth and the spirit of man as a gentle soul”, she says.
The show begins with leaves in the main gallery. This section, titled ‘Autumn: A Second Spring’ will chiefly have cheetahs painted in a dulcet landscape. The next building Centre for Contemporary Art holds a series of collages and paintings that include landscapes and horses besides a series on the Sufi mystic Rumi. In the second building, the show opens into portraits of film stars Rekha (Umrao Jaan) and Smita Patil (Gaman), besides Muzaffar’s wife Meera Ali.
The exhibition will have Muzaffar-designed objects and furniture besides his collage dashboards and clothes-hangers arranged as installations by wife Meera, a project designer and stylist. The furniture pieces and clothes-hangers will be a point of conversation for design lovers. The catalogue, a limited-edition classic, will be on sale for Rs 3,000 and half the price for students.
Masha Art CEO Samarth Mathur says the Muzaffar Ali show will provide multiple perspectives on Muzaffar’s richness in the art practices.
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