The Art of Resistance: Gulammohammed Sheikh’s ‘Speechless City’ is about refusing to look away

By DIva Gujral | Scroll

The scene is eerily still. A city stands, ghostlike, emptied, sprawled across a square canvas; in the foreground sickly green houses, their open doors like gaping mouths, in the background stacks of haphazard buildings that are reminiscent of busy chowks and crossings across the country. Between them, the amalgamation of ground and sky overwhelms the composition with swathes of ominous orange. The painting readaptsthe visual language of Mughal miniature painting, in which space is stacked and interspersed with uniform shocks of flattened colour, to a dream-like depiction of the present day.Thus Gulamohammed Sheikh’s Speechless City (1975) unfolds in the wake of calamity – a town, deserted by its inhabitants, is now occupied solely by cattle and dogs that pour in and out of emptied houses and the occasional flocks of birds that take to the skies, fleeing the scene.

1 January 2020