Sahar's Bookshelf - Camera Chronicles with Homai Vyarawalla

Homai Vyarawalla was India's first woman photo journalist. This book on her tracks her pioneering journey from the 1940's. From my personal collection of coffee table books on arts, she signed this copy for me at her book launch in 2006.

Can An Art Fair Ever Be Bad?

 Mareech by Vishal Dar Shapeless by Faig Ahmed   I walk into the 7 th edition of the India Art Fair to check on what’s new, what’s exciting and is there really any progress made in the past seven years! From my trained eye’s point of view, it seems hackneyed. I’ve been going to this fair since it’s inception. I’ve seen a few good years, a few disasters and have maintained that the fair remains mediocre compared to other international art fairs, despite the gushing country wide reviews and the so-called profits made! I’ve seen how prestigious international art galleries participated for the first few years but decided never to return. I’ve also noticed how the size of the fair has reduced. And yes, I’ve had gallerists tell me that it’s been much too bleak with the buyers this time.   Pathway by Stephen Knapp But I’ve decided NEVER to describe an art fair as bad! That’s because it’s an unfair sweeping statement to make. The variety of art that you get to see under one

Colours of an Election

(first published in Mar 2009 for Art Concerns e-Mag) One usually doesn’t use ‘art’ and ‘elections’ in the same breath. But hey, it’s the 21st century. And innovation is in. So we made Anjolie Ela Menon our next PM, asked Raghu Rai to travel back in time to the Indira years and quizzed Amar Singh about what he thought of caricatures on Manmohan Singh. Yes, it’s all too confusing but read on. I recently shot with Anjolie Ela Menon for CNN-IBN’s special show called ‘If I Were Prime Minister’. It’s a programme where a person of consequence takes the mike and talks about what’s closest to his or her heart. Anjolie decided to get out of her studio and spend time with pre-schoolers from the Nizamuddin slum school. It’s a place she supports with both her time and her money. She spoke not about her art or the art market or even about the painting she just dedicated to the Mumbai martyrs but focused on something closest to her heart. The state of municipal schools in the country! She s

When Sonia Amma Came...

(first published in Feb 2009 for Art Concerns e-Mag) I'm sure she needs her privacy. Can you imagine how the difficult it is for her to have some peace and quiet, hounded as she is like a rockstar? A silent walkabout in a gallery, which is what most of us do around art, can be unthinkable for the most powerful woman in the country. So I can well understand why we were all shut out of the NGMA as UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi enjoyed (or did she?) walking about the art works in a newly opened wing. This project, incidentally, was in the pipeline for 26 years which is about five more years than it took to build the Taj Mahal (in Agra!!). My desire to know what she felt about the new wing of the National Gallery of Modern Art will probably remain unfulfilled, unless I switch to political reporting and ask her off the record. Or a much better idea would be to ask my boss Rajdeep Sardesai to do me that favour. As for what I thought about the new wing… I just wish there weren’t so man

‘The Taj’ in Delhi via France

(first published in Jan 2009 for Art Concerns e-Mag) The Mumbai attacks have taken up every possible space around us and understandably so. Our TV space, cyber space, mind space, dinner-table space and SMS space. Every public person worth his or her salt is out with an opinion on 26/11. Musicians are out with special songs written for those who fell to the terrorists’ bullets. Writers are out with passionate write-ups on their thoughts and anguish. But what’s wrong with the art fraternity? Does it take so long to react? Why is it that there’s just one ageing master who stands up to say something about Mumbai, using what he knows best – his paint brush. ‘Rape of India’ may not be the best work done by M.F. Husain but he manages to reach out to the people of India, who are in mourning for the tragedy and who live through it everyday. What’s more, he’s manages to do this sitting miles away from India , in London . Of course, he was also in the news for promising to do another set of

The Moving Art of Pakistan

(first published in Dec 2008 for Art Concerns e-Mag) This time My TV & My Art took me to Pakistan, our neighbour, which is a lot like us but seems exotic to many mainly because of inaccessibility or its ‘difficult to get a visa’ factor. It was for a recce on ‘truck art’ for a special TV show that I have been working on. The trucks there are moving installations. They bring life to dusty grey roads. On the mountains they look like jewel carts, shining differently in the different lights of the sun. That’s what Pakistan’s trucks are to me. They remind me that beauty is sometimes a surprise. There is also an effort to bring this dialogue out into the public sphere. The Second Floor or T2F as its commonly known in Karachi, is a café that holds an open house every weekend. Artists, writers, poets and musicians come here and share their stuff with the city’s happening crowd over coffee and sandwiches. I showed two of my favourite TV stories. A show on India’s ‘new media’ stars l

Restoration and Preservation Under Arc Lamps

(first published in Nov 2008 for Art Concerns e-Mag) I always talk a lot about how well the camera captures an art work but this week I want to pay art restorers my long-due respect. They have an ‘eye’ that even my camera fails to match up!! While shooting with Priya Khanna on a special story on art restoration, she pointed out patches in a painting that I obviously couldn’t see but even my shots failed to show the ‘real picture’. We only managed to show a proper ‘before’ and ‘after’ version of the restored painting by using UV light. Sometimes light as we know isn’t good enough. Art restoration is a fascinating process. One could say that the affected works are given a dressing down and then re-dressed in fresh clothing, one that is identical to the old one. Be it oils, water colours, sculptures or tender paper works - everything can be and is restored. Braggart that I am, I will now switch back to how the camera manages to offer certain details of an art work that the e