monday was mukul’s birthday. the celebration was a nice long rather expensive dinner at a place called ‘joss’ at kalaghoda and it was japanese cuisine time. i just absolutely adore sake. its smooth, gentle, soft. i love the warm glow after a sip. its too bad we don’t get it that easily here. the sushi was an acquired taste that i quite liked after a while but was not totally kicked about. kuntal, nandita were with us and were both looking absolutely gorgeous- kb in his beautiful blue shirt and nandita in the glow that is supposed to envelop a pregnant woman.
we had also met them earlier in kuntals beautiful apartment at manek at malabar hill. now that is a great modernist high rise. the split level apartments, the view over priyadarshini park, the room with the wooden floor and walls, the spectacular stilt area with the early modern detailing, its too bad that the society has decided to wrap the lift lobby in some tacky italian marble. it was so much more beautiful earlier. kuntal’s house itself is wonderfully warm and comfortable. we lounged around on the carpet in the late afternoon light coming in through the curtains as kb and nb bickered like married people seem to so regarding the most mundane issues.
mukul and me however went by ourselves to the main event of the day- the opening of ‘bhupen among friends’ organized by chemould at the prince of wales art gallery.
i love bhupen khakkars work. i have found it to be violent, personal, entertaining and energetic. so have i guess a lot of people. his life and his work have gained the notoriety that can only be extremely good for the prices of his paintings, especially now that he is dead.
the “soiree” was an exhibition where some of the leading artists of the country had come together to create their own dedications to the man, his life and his art. the who’s who list was atul dodiya (whom tamal told me can be seen as the amitabh bachchan of the art scene- a series of busts of bhupen khakkar in different colours- rather spooky and a notebook which was distributed quite freely), anju dodiya (his wife- paintings on some embroidered cloth), sudhir patwardhan (whom i admire so much- some screaming distorted heads), nalini malani ( strange forms and figures painted on acryilic), nilima sheikh ( tiny lovingly detailed drawings), vivan sundaram (soft grey and white landscapes of words and figures) and ghulam sheikh (quite moving digital portraiture using bhupens work and photographs in collages and installations). of course there were many more. but these are the ones i remember off hand right now.
the work was interesting, so i thought.. not necessarily very moving- though not awful. the performance, on the other hand.. someone had this great idea of getting the artists to give 30 second dedications to bhupen. that was all right until when bhupen came alive in the form of a letter, supposedly written by him from heaven for all his friends, which was read aloud by a man wearing a red bow tie. the jokes and letters ranged form the juvenile to the pointless (so bhupen is very happy that yama raja is gay…) gay jokes? when did the so called intellectual elite of the city become the cast of an american pie movie? nalini said later that bhupen would have enjoyed the performance quite a bit- he did love his kitsch. so i guess i am much too eagerly political and need to lighten up a little- but i still found it silly.