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Painting Exhibition by Prisoners of Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad

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Sunshine at twilight : On the painting exhibition Jail Uday


narendrasinh and manish Parmar with art trainer Niran rathod
Narendrasinh and Manish Parmar with art trainer Niren Rathod

Imagine yourself locked up in a 4×4 cellar with near absence of opportunities to express your inner emotions. A room suffocated by limestone walls with bare minimum facilities, and an engraved strange feeling of discovering yourself every morning behind the bars. A place where maintaining a confident posture is as rocky as keeping a lamp lighted in turbulent darkness. Life of an inmate is tough, with least direct communication with the outside world and away from all the relations. But within all this, it’s tougher to maintain an intimacy with inner self, a constant effort of not letting your liveliness fade away.

Paintings by Prisoners of Sabarmati Jail
(L to R) Sunil Joshi- Jail Superintendent, Manish Parmar, NArendrasinh Rathod, artist Vrindavan Solanki, BS Jabaliya- IGP (Prison)

The painting exhibition titled ‘Jail Uday’ at Satya Art Gallery is a compilation of 31 paintings made by convicts Narendra Sinh Rathod, Manish Parmar and Suresh Sanchana. These painters belong to the Sabarmati Central Jail, Ahmedabad and the paintings are the expression of their strife to keep their core alive.  Sunil Joshi the Jail Superintendent exclaimed, “This is an opportunity for jail inmates, to exhibit their skills.The life of prisoners is beyond the walls within the prison. This exhibition of art skills demonstrates that.”

Artist Vrundavan Solanki talking with Painters from Jail
A moment of discussion between artist Vrindavan Solanki, Narendrasinh Rathod, BS Jabaliya- IGP (Prison) and Sunil Joshi, Jail Superintendent.

Vrindavan Solanki a veteran artist, who was invited as the Chief Guest, narrates, “The inside voice of the convict took the form of an art. This opportunity to exhibit their inner emotions is like sunshine to them. Many paintings talk about self-realization and freedom; because they literally experience or either lure to experience it. Contemporary painters would not have been able to paint like few of these because their life experiences are completely different.”

Sunshine at twilight On the painting exhibition Jail Uday


Every art piece shares a unique anecdote describing the prisoner’s state of mind while painting it. Naredrasinh Rathod, who drew a 15 x 5 feet painting just within a day said, “Most of the times, behind the bars, we hear the sound of the keys locking and unlocking people. Our ears are habituated with these sounds. The inspiration behind my drawing of an ear and the key, with a cardiogram in center over the lock, is, my hope that someday the lock on my cage might set free.”  Rathod has been imprisoned for a lifetime under section 302.  With art being a new dimension of life, Rathod’s message to others is, Vyast raho,mast raho (Stay Busy Stay Happy).

Manish Parmar's paintings

Manish Parmar’s paintings has two themes – Freedom and love. A fine arts student himself, pursuing MA as an external student, who loves to paint on canvas and glass said, “It is through painting that I can let my caged pigeon experience a view of freedom.” He further added, “Life at the prison has become like a hostel life to us. Though we are habituated with this environ, we as humans also require love. My paintings exhibit the urge of being loved, If you closely observe the strokes, I have painted creatures in pairs which requires the living creatures need of a companionship.” While everyone was having an informal chai at the Karma Cafe, dada empathized the pain and urge of a companion in Parmar’s work and hugged him with compassion. It was a truly heart-warming sight to witness as Parmar was getting pampered and blessed, by a fellow human.

Sunshine at twilight On the painting exhibition Jail Uday


Nirav Rathod, an Art trainer guided all the three convicts on their painting skills. “My guidance leads them from sketching to brush strokes on canvas,”  said Nirav commenting on how one expresses frustrations while diverting it into an art form.  BS Jebaliya, IGP (Prison) said, “The exhibition also opens a new horizon for people, on how they see the life of prisoners. Within the prison, there is little freedom as well, like in this case; the convicts had freedom to paint.”

Lastly, Vivek Desai, managing trustee of Navjivan trust said, “Art allows imagining and putting worth the world of imagination on canvas. I’m sure that the process of exhibiting would give a bright push in life to all these 3 exhibitors.”

Art has its own way of nurturing the soul, and we at are filled with gladness to have witnessed such an inspiring exhibit. The art here depicts the darkness that largely hovers over the lives of these three painters, at the same time it beams the hope that beats in their subdued hearts.

The exhibition is a must go. The display is open till 2nd of October, the paintings are available on sale too.

Manish Parmar's painting painting by manish parmar

Photographs : Aneri Nihalani


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