To be precise my garden is currently two flower pots but as any other Oval Maidan (Mumbai) or Central Park (NY) facing resident would say – the entire oval(park) is my garden !
Ok so truth be told, I have spent almost a year researching this work. Because Somnath Hore can be tricky – as his sculptures are rare. He falls into the category of serious artists who pursued their passion with little thought to commercialization or to creating versions for sale etc. In fact his respiratory problems which ultimately caused his death were likely created by the casting environment.
My first stop in pursuit of a Somnath was of course a gallery in Kolkata – who put me in touch with Chandana, Somnath’s daughter and an artist by her own right. Apparently this was one of the handful Rabindranath Tagore’s casted by Somnath. A couple more below:
But I needed to know more , build my intuition about his works and understand his oeuvre. To add to the intrigue there were all these reports of incorrect works – from left-over casts apparently ? The newspaper report is partly replicated below
A week after the opening …, the wife and daughter of Hore, who died last year, say many, if not all, of the pieces are fakes. The original of at least one, his daughter said, is in her possession in Santiniketan. “We are sure the sculptures are not real,” said Chandana Hore, …”
There were some t’s to cross and some i’s to dot. I needed to see some other works of Somnath for study and further conviction – the chance to inspect a few of his genuine works in reference collections and the “impossible to obtain” CIMA publication and the equally hard LKA publication was of immense help.
And finally a physical inspection of the dubious works, whose images I have decided not to put up as they were shown to me in confidence. Finally after months, I was ready to make the purchase.
Headed back to kolkata but found that the work has just been consigned to Saffron – I gave him the Bengali version of “How Could You” and headed back to Mumbai disgusted with myself and all the possibly un-necessary checks. I should have bought the work immediately after having discussed it (and completed the provenance checks) with Chandana many months ago .
Anyways all’s well that ends well – was able to buy the work at auction. I had to – too much time had been invested in researching it!
Lastly I pronounce his name as horÈ, whether incorrectly or not. I prefer it my way
I prefer this pronunciation for two reasons a) the obvious bengali-french cultural connection 🙂 and b) the other pronunciation is not very polite.
My search for Meera Mukherjee actually started at Pundole’s old gallery in Flora fountain. After some discussion there I had made some notes on a piece of paper that I carried safely with me for at least a couple of years. A few good Meera’s did come up in Saffron – Mother & Child, Children playing under a tree which were all very nice but I was getting a bit sick of this mother and child theme and was looking for something powerful (something like Lady Godiva). Anyways, after a lot of reading had identified Meera Mukherjee’s Benaras Ghats as a work that I would have loved to acquire.
Then this Durga came up at Pundoles and I just had to snap it up. Interestingly there is a catalogue raisonne of sorts for Meera and this work is listed there as 1996 (as expected) and most likely was a commissioned work as per another source.
Recently Christies referred to her as the first modern sculpture artist of India and her work – “the storm” saw a new record in auction.
I had met Himmat Shah at a gallery viewing in Delhi. Subsequently acquired his new book “Terracota” – the book itself will give you some pause about how meticulous the artist can be. Subsequently there was the Kiran Nader Museum exhibition on the artist – an outstanding one ! His drawings are something I still covet – need to get around to picking up a few.
Apparently there are very few bronzes cast prior to 2006. These earlier works (mostly from his garhi studio) were made in editions of 9+AP or 7+AP. In 2006 he casted another 40 works in an edition of 5+AP – so may be three hundred or so bronzes in all ( I need to confirm these numbers ).
The sculpture is inspired from brancusi’s famous “kiss” .