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Art Mart
Text by Maria Louis
Published: Volume 15, Issue 1, January, 2007

Goa was the flavour of the month - not just for those who let their hair down to bid goodbye to the old year, but for the art cognoscenti as well, says Maria Louis

The beginning of December brought a whiff of the sun, sand and sea to nostalgic Mumbaikars. Be it music, poetry, painting, sculpture or embroidery, the tropical paradise that is the year-end getaway for city slickers has been nourishing the arts as much as it nourishes the hearts of its visitors. Impressed by the redoubtable creative talent of Goan artists, who have imbibed the best of Portuguese influences and integrated them into their indigenous heritage, Pravina Mecklai of Jamaat unveiled GoaGoaGoa: a group show featuring three brilliant Goan artists and their varied art forms. Three cheers to Verodina Ferrao, Liesl Cotta de Souza and Sonia Rodrigues Sabharwal - each of them excelling in distinct art practices, but all of them rooted to their native land!

The earthy feel of terracotta captivated Ferrao years ago and her early experiments in sculpture attracted the attention of fashion designer and art impresario Wendell Rodericks - who has carved a niche for himself in the lively world of haute couture while living in sosegado Goa. He lost no time in spreading the excitement of his find...and today she acknowledges his contribution to her success with a winning smile. Her long, languid figures of women and men in different postures...sitting, reclining, reading, talking, or indulging in other everyday activities...are moulded by hand, then fired, before she adds her finishing touches to the surface. The many outdoor installations she has done all over the world have added more feathers to her already colourful cap.

In complete contrast to the computer-generated art that has gripped the fancy of many young artists, de Souza works in a medium that is a dying art. Painstakingly embroidered with silk thread on fabric, she creates beautiful compositions of village women doing mundane tasks. Her workmanship is unbelievable - creating figures with such expressive forms and backgrounds that are so richly worked, that it is difficult to believe they are not paintings. As for Sabharwal, she employs bright colours in acrylic on canvas to capture the playfulness of the divine Ganesha who is venerated by Hindus all over Goa.

Art aficionados, Ritu Jain and Ishi Jami, are deeply involved with the promotion of art and artists from around the world. The Shanghai-based women - incidentally Ritu is from India and Ishi is from Pakistan - forged this unique bond that transcends concerns of business a few years ago, when they met in the metropolis.

After a well-appreciated exhibition of Chinese art in New Delhi, last year, the enterprising art-lovers took Pakistani art to Hong Kong last month - with artists like Ismail Gulgee, Ghulam Rasool, Mansur Rahi, Eqbal Mehdi and Hajra Mansur, to name but a few. Earlier this year, they had showcased art from across the border in India and the event had been inaugurated by H.E. Aziz Ahmad Khan, the High Commissioner of Pakistan and Dr Amit Mitra, Secretary General of FICCI.