Monday, January 30, 2023 | Rajab 7, 1444 H
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Art gamble that paid off

Tarini Agarwal loves to paint and when she does she starts with a few colours without overthinking the expected result.

This choice is mostly intuitive but sometimes accidental. The texture and viscosity are a tactile stimulus for her which shows up in most of her works.

Says Tarini, “The Sultanate of Oman has nurtured my love for art and has given my creative voice.” I am almost always lost in the creative process, time and space become intangible and immaterial and they recede into the background,” says this long time resident in Oman.

Recently, one of her life’s dreams came true when she hosted ‘Vibrations,’ a week-long art exhibition at the iconic Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai.

For an artist of her caliber it was an exciting time as the Jehangir Art Gallery has a big role to play in nurturing her love for Modern Indian Art.

Her connection with the Gallery goes back to 1972 and for her, the exhibition here meant to be very “special and personal.”

She has a very long connection with modern Indian art and has been buying them since 1994. Modern Indian art typically shows the influence of Western styles, but is often inspired by Indian themes and images.

Tarini exhibited 25 of her paintings of various sizes ranging from 100x100 cm to 20x20cm.

As always, the inspiration for her abstract comes from the physical landscape, as she tries to capture her emotional response to the landscape. These paintings make an emotional connection with the viewer.

Some of her works on mixed media that were exhibited include works namely ‘Avinhna,’ ‘Vipula,’ ‘Joyful Harsh,’ ‘Soul Song’ and others. For ‘Avinhna’, a mixed media though Tarini rarely works in red, she began to think about painting and working for the show, this bright colour showed up. “My mind wanted to tone it down, paint over it but the painting insisted on being red. Who am I to question, so I did the next best thing to surrender to the process and let the painting lead,” she reflects.

For ‘Joyful/Harsh’, she had a mind of her own and then finally settled down into a beautiful joyful blue lilac. A beautifully worked surface with a lot of colours showing through. She feels in this work, joy has found its roots and is here to stay.

Several key art world personalities visited the gallery to see her art and appreciated her well received works.

Dr Saryu Vinod Doshi an art scholar, art historian, academic and curator and founder director of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai, said her work was an ‘intriguing abstract with sensitive rendering and colour qualities.”

The art fair happened to her rather luckily. The lead-time to do exhibit at the Jehangir Art Gallery is usually 8-10 years and the present show was booked during the pre-Covid days but the group dissipated. An artist unknown to Tarini reached out to her to participate and she went in without knowing anyone.

Tarini was happy to have participated, as anyone from Mumbai knows how difficult it is to get a show going at the Jehangir Art Gallery. The process is tedious and the waiting takes many years.

Tarini recalls as a child how her mother took her to the gallery in 1972. Even though she has been a resident in Muscat for more than 32 years, she visits the gallery back every single time.

She has almost always stayed walking distance from the Jehangir as her home is still a walking distance.

She mentions how great Indian masters like M F Hussain, Ram Kumar and V S Gaitonde exhibited their works there. Late M F Hussain’s last show was in Muscat in March 2011 and he passed away in June 2011.

“This is the place that fed my love for Modern Indian Art. It is this love for Modern Indian art that both my husband (Viren) and I have made us collectors too,” she adds.

In 2004 Tarini had brought collections from the National Gallery of Modern Art to the Omani Society of Fine Art (OSFA).

About her opportunity, Tarini says, “Getting selected is the right of the gallery, so that is dependent on their criteria. I went in blind with little or no information about the artists. I think it was faith and the deep personal desire to participate in Jehangir that made me take this gamble.”

In 2017, Tarini received the Honorary Award of Distinction for Expatriate Artist, from the Diwan of Royal Court, and her paintings are hung in the National Museum, Oman.

For Tarini, the single connecting thread that runs through her life is the need to find a creative outlet — be it teaching or painting.

“To be creative has always been very important to me. This space allows me to be authentic to myself, my way of seeing, feeling and experiencing my surroundings and relationships,” she concludes.

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