When Former Art Students Reunite After 40 Years

The roads people end up taking after their education can differ hugely. When the 77-78 Batch of MSU reunited, the Gufa was witness to an assortment of works.

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College days are times we all look back at fondly. Especially so when those days have been spent in one of the most acclaimed art schools in the country. When graduates from the 1977-78 batch of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda showcased a reunion exhibition of their works, Amdavad ni Gufa wore a festive air indeed. ‘Celebrating 40 years of Fine Arts, Vadodara’ was inaugurated on the 19thof September. The exhibition shall continue till 24th of September.

With many of the artists being present themselves, excited conversations could be overheard – about people known, times shared, colleagues and professors who were not present. The sad demise of artist and teacher Jeram Patel in 2016 was the trigger which had brought the batch together after decades. Tracing their cohorts and catching up with each other, the batch mates found that some had moved far away and some had even passed away. This prompted them to arrange a reunion exhibition of their works.

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The exhibition was inaugurated by noted artist Shri Amit Ambalal and NID Director Shri Pradyumna Vyas, who were delighted on being asked to inaugurate such a novel occasion. Besides them, Prof Parimoo, Prof Jani and Prof Deshpande also graced the occasion. Anil Relia, one of the trustees of the Gufa, exhibited some of his early serigraphs from 1984 – made long before starting his own studio Archer.

Many of the batch mates of MSU have gone to practice art in allied fields or become art educators, whereas some have moved on to completely different sectors, with art having become a bygone memory for them. Ravindra Vyas from Indore studied LLB. Today, he is practising both design and law, with a focus on copyright issues.

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Some students found their future spouses while at the university, like the Jadhavs who met there and have now been married for over 35 years. Omprakash Jadhav exhibited multiple works depicting expressions of the human form. And Purnima Jadhav has been an art educator for the past 37 years. She brought some work done with her students – a paper and cloth collage made by primary class children, and tie and dye exercises made by 12th-grade students. On seeing her work, Shri Pradyumna Vyas remarked that teaching art to children is one of the best undertakings.

Some brought old work, some new. Many expressed the influence of their educators and teachers, like Rajendra Patel who brought some of the college exercises he had done in Jeram Patel’s class! Patel has also taught children at Kendriya Vidyalaya, alongside his work as a freelance handicraft designer. Malti Gaekwad, who exhibited some pen on paperwork, shared with us that her lines were influenced by Nasreen Mohamedi who taught at MSU. Manu Nirmal, who had been interested in visiting Chota Udaipur and exploring tribal culture since his days at MSU, exhibited photographs of tribal fairs in Chota Udaipur.

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Vrindavan Solanki, who was a part of this batch, had a very interesting journey. He had previously been a part of a much older batch but had taken a break to travel and work in different parts of the country, before joining again into this batch and graduating with them.

Relia exhibited a few works by Jagdeep Smart who had passed away a few years ago and contributed greatly to Surat’s art world. Some of the others who presented were Thakore Patel who taught at Bharuch Fine Arts College and displayed sketches of his family members, Chandrakant Parmar who exhibited papier mache works influenced by tribal culture, Hemant Sutharia, Harish Kale, Ratilal Chauhan, Viresh Desai from Rajkot who practiced as a textile designer, and Vishaka Chanchani who is a faculty member at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.

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From people who exhibited work done in their college days to those who showcased work done by their students, from people who went on to become established artists and designers to those who went on to teach physical education – the exhibition shows what an unusual journey 40 years can lead to! It was not as much about curating a genre of work as it was about bringing people together.

To see sexagenarian people become teenagers again, was delightful. One wishes to see much more of this group again!

Photographs : Marmik Shah

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