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People's trees

A TREE IN MY LIFE Exhibition of paintings and sculptures at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature New Delhi

By Sinchita V Bhattacharya
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Life sap: a painting displayed (Credit: Shamshad)When the earth gave birth to this free, There came no sound, A green shoot thrust In silence from the ground. Our births don't come so Quiet...
-Raskin Bond

ALMOST to the tune of this couplet, the birth of the concept for an exhibition "A Tree in My Life", was a very quiet one. Says Dolly Narang, owner of The Village Art Gallery in New Delhi, "It has taken up an important cause - environment - which everybody talks but nobody really does anything about". The proposal to hold an exhibition visualising the tree either as a metaphor of life or an actual image of the real world without which the earth would not prosper, evoked interesting responses from painters, sculptors and printmakers.

Narang felt that an environmental statement was the need of the hour not as an exhortation, but as a gentle and poignant message which evoked for everyone a tender memory related to a tree and thereby highlight that trees were so crucial to our very existence.

The theme may he called an effort to promote art for a social cause. It was not only an exhibition, but a sincere campaign from the artists' pavilion for those with green dreams in their eyes.

Fifty-orre artists conveyed this message through their creations at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, New Delhi, in an exhibition held from December 21, 1995 to January 12, 1996. Main ban ki chidiya banke ban ban doloon. this was the title of air oil on canvas by M F Hussain, He expresses sentiments about the neem tree which brought back memories of his grandfather to him. Ganesh Pyne's temperas exalt trees as a sublime symbol of silence. Sudhir Patwardhan sees the city folk as trees - a metaphorical substitute. His work is a strong comment on the ecological disaster our cities are heading for.

Rajendra Kumar Tiku's Wainer and Cherry on Wood is versatile. Faraway Tree by Nilima Sheikh is another symbol of life's offerings for the enchanted wood. Untitled tempera by Sanat Kar in brown tone is a pleasant walk down the memory lane. For Amal Gbosb, trees are symbols of a regenerative force - promises of a new life. The idyllic scenes depicted by Suraj Ghai were rich in imagination. "Trees are a symbol of paradise: love, joy and plenty. Life without them will be a desert," this is strongly conveyed by his Lovers in garden - an oil on canvas.

Everyone who visited the exhibition had a tale to tell, Celebrities like Shyam Benegal, Annad Ali Khan, Kiran Bedi and Sunil Gavaskar's memories about "trees" find mention in the exhibition catalogue. One can hope that the exhibition would be successful in raising some positive response from the people about environmental issues and saving trees in particular. The concept in itself was laudable, the idea beautiful.

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