Opening up new vistas! - Tyeb Mehta

Magnum opus, masterpiece, paragon so on and so forth! These adjectives are used to describe Tyeb Mehta’s iconic painting ‘Kali’ (1989)! It left everyone in awe when it grabbed whopping amount of 26.4 Cr at an auction and changed the outlook of people towards art.

The painting is created using flat coloured planes which convey that there is no depth. As if the painter is saying ‘just look at Kali and nothing else’. The mastery of his skills is shown through the use of a simple palette and brushstrokes. It represents that such a humble choice of colors is enough to create something extraordinary.

The Padma Bhushan awardee, was born in Kheda district of Gujarat. He came to Mumbai and at the age of 22 during partition, he witnessed a man being stoned to death. This incident has been inscribed on his mind and has been expressed in many of his works.

Tyeb Mehta let go of the traditional way of showcasing Kali and portrayed her as ‘Ma Kali’, a mother! When you look at the painting, Kali is represented in a unique manner. Painted in blue and having a red mouth, she appears to be in a dance-like posture. She seems to have devoured her victim and still one of his limb is in her right hand. One thing which is quite peculiar is that she has a protruding belly, symbolising that she is pregnant. Suddenly, the painting shines in different light. She is a mother protecting the unborn child. She wishes for a bright future for her child and fights the sins of the present. Her dance-like poise is for self defence.

Even though the artist was disturbed by the violence of partition, he managed to see the good in the bad situation. This is evident in this painting. The facial expressions shown are horrendous, however, he manages to portray her in a soft style.

Tyeb Mehta chose modern art to showcase his affection and admiration towards the power Kali instead of the classic form. The sale of his painting at such handsome amount of money tells us that there are connoisseurs who recognise the true value of art. However, the painter didn’t benefit from this sale. As the concept of ‘Royalty’ is not available on the paintings, the artists like him are at loss.

Features like Jumbish Royalty program could surely ensure that the artists benefit from their art, not just once but for a lifetime!

Jumbish celebrates the achievement of the late Tyeb Mehta and wishes the upcoming artists for the best!

  • Neeharika Shembekar
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