Gulammohammed Sheikh ‘Kaarawaan and Other Works’: Maps for a lost nation

The Tribune | by Malvika Kaul

At his new exhibition (‘Kaarawaan and Other Works’), organised by Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi, Gulammohammed presents an exhaustive set of images depicting diverse metaphors for life. Giant canvases feature luminaries like Kabir, Gandhi, St Francis and Frida Kahlo entwined with peasants and kings, lovers and friends, soldiers and singers. Atop terraces, around gardens, inside homes and into the sea, creatures big and small attempt to tell their stories of glory and tragedy. His elegiac canvases map cosmopolitan India and vernacular Bharat, narrating the multi-cultural and multi-religious ethos of the nation. Delicately painted birds are juxtaposed with shattered habitats — every canvas evokes dialogue, a confrontation of ideas. Some canvases are presented as installations. Old tales are retold in modern folders. In ‘Majnun in the Forest’, the lost lover sits with a streak of tigers in a deep forest. The painting appears like a satellite image, blurred and intimate simultaneously. On the other side of ‘Majnun’ is ‘Tree of Sleep’, a microscopic and aerial view of the tree of life. Both canvases are disparate yet connected. His art excels in convergence.

10 March 2024