Wings of Vivacity – City to Witness the Gargantuan Retrospective of Artist Mahendra Kadia

In the journey of Kadia, an artist with over 4 decades of work behind him, we discover the essence of art – what it means to express one’s deepest feelings by combining mediums, to transform canvas into art. We bring to you an exclusive preview of the upcoming retrospective of Mahendra Kadia, ‘Lines to Strokes’.

A young boy growing up in the pols of Ahmedabad in the 70’s was noticeably fascinated by birds. He gazed at them as they grazed on grains at the chabutra near his courtyard. Contemplating their moods and emotions, he depicted them through detailed sketches. This young boy was painter Mahendra Kadia who, over a prolonged span of four decades, has consistently transmogrified the form of birds through subjective portrayals since.

Mahendra Kadia, A Retrospective, Lines to Strokes
Mahendra Kadia in his early days

Mahendra Kadia’s gargantuan show has been thoughtfully curated by Giriraj Kadia, with the dual aim of showcasing the entire oeuvre of his uncle’s work while also letting the viewer experience the four decade long journey of the artist. A nephew of Mahendra Kadia, Giriraj Kadia is known for his out-of-the-box thinking. In his previous curatorial efforts in shows titled ‘Two Parallels’ and ‘Voice of Silence’, he clearly demonstrated his perceptiveness and ability to create an experiential display. With, Mahendra Kadia, A Retrospective, Lines to Strokes, he is expected to take the exhibition’s quality a few notches higher. His decision to use mass communication tools like the radio and cinema hall advertisement in creative ways so as to attract fresh audiences to the visual art experience is applause-worthy. It tells much about the surprises his display will have in store for viewers. Suddenly, 11th of January seems far away!

L to R Giriraj Kadia with Mahendra Kadia

Giriraj Kadia’s sense of belonging to the art world began with Mahendra Kadia. “As a child, I always played with my uncle’s brushes and canvases. I developed a strong desire to learn art while watching him,” he says, “For me, the alphabetic rhyme always began with an ‘A’ for Art, and not an ‘A’ for Apple. This exhibition is not just about my uncle; it is the celebration of a man’s endeavour to overcome challenges and pursue his dreams; and a depiction of the vast contributions that the artist and his work have made in the art fraternity.”

In his sexagenarian years today, Kadia is usually seen to draw thought-provoking abstracts. But in his initial days, he didn’t focus on depicting the energy of elements. Depicting Mahendra Kadia’s artistic evolution, the show is masterfully spread over three galleries, each depicting an era in his journey. It’s first chapter is dedicated to Kadia’s earlier works (1977-2000), and is situated at Amdavad Ni Gufa. The show’s second chapter at Hutheesing Centre is where the metaphor of his poetic art amplifies (2001-2011), and the energy of birds, with wings in motion, are captured in space. The third chapter at Kanoria Centre for Arts is where emotions seem to take over the specifications, such as the wings, beaks and figures of the birds, and are entirely liquefied into sheer energies (2012-2017). It will be engaging to view the metamorphoses of his style over the three chapters, and to become part of the journey from Lines to Strokes – in the way the curator has imagined it. For Ahmedabad, this promises to be a new and delightful experience.

Mahendra Kadia Paintings
Metamorphoses of Kadia’s style from Lines to Strokes

Kadia hails from the walled city of Ahmedabad. His father was a humble couturier and, like the rest of his family, was utterly unacquainted with the field of visual art. As a boy, Kadia never showed any keenness towards formal education, however. During his early school days, he flunked in every subject, except Fine Arts and Physical Training (PT). He hardly managed to complete his matriculation, but with the support of the school Principal Himmatbhai Kapasi, he reached the doors of Sheth CN School of Fine Arts where he got a taste of formal art education. As a nocturnal sketcher, he visited the railway station and bus stands of Ahmedabad to practise his sketching. He was later introduced to eminent artist and sculptor Piraji Sagara, who deeply influenced Kadia’s aesthetic sensibilities.

During his artistic evolution, Kadia was influenced by far more than his education in Fine Arts alone. The mentors of the city who shared their core knowledge with him, the city’s public places, and the citizenry of Ahmedabad – all these played essential roles in shaping his skills as an artist. During his upbringing, Kadia and his three brothers shared a common space for sleeping, which developed in him a spirit of sharing (though, being a nocturnal sketcher, Kadia was rarely involved in the indolent act of sleeping!). He continued this attitude as he grew older, giving back to the city in the form of knowledge. Kadia started teaching at his alma mater, Sheth CN School of Fine Arts, and later became the Vice Principal at the same institute. He is currently appointed as the Hon. Director at L & P Hutheesing Visual Art Centre and is also an Ex-Member of the Lalit Kala Akademi.

Standing tall today, without anyone’s favours, Kadia has been able to inspire the emergence of more than 11 artists within his family alone. Kadia’s paintings are in the collection of luminous personalities like Jaya Bachchan, Sangeeta Jindal and Urmila Kanoria, and also on display at the reputed National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi. He has been awarded various accolades, including the Teachers’ Award felicitated by AMC, a National Award by Lalit Kala Academi, and a National Fellowship for Two Years by the Department of Culture.

The show Lines to Strokes will display more than 150 artworks by Mahendra Kadia, painted in various mediums of poster colours, oil paint, water colour, acrylic and charcoal. The show will be inaugurated on January 10, 2018, by Smt Dakshaben Hutheesing, in the presence of veterans from the visual art fraternity, of Kadia’s enthusiastic students as well as of collectors. The event will also mark the launch of the methodically drafted book Mahendra Kadia, A Retrospective – Lines to Strokes’, which elaborates on his art and life.

I had the privilege of interacting with the artist and the curator and have gained the distinct sense that what we will experience at the three galleries will be the crystallisation of an artist’s true love for art. Of late, the visual art scene of Ahmedabad is brimming with some great work and I’m certain that the Retrospective will further kindle the interest of more people towards the visual arts, at large.

The show will be open till January 21, 2018.

Image Source and Copyright : Ginipi Art

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