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Painting - City for Sale

City for Sale

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Baroda (made)

  • Date:

    1981-1984 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sheikh, Gulammohammed, born 1937 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Copyright Gulammohammed Sheikh

  • Museum number:

    IS.15-1986

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The painting depicts the city of Baroda, Gujarat, and the events that took place during the early 1980s. 'City for Sale' represents one of the artist's most ambitious paintings of the eighties, where an epic scene is stirred up with the subject of Baroda's communal riots.

In the centre one can observe a cinema which is showing the film 'Silsila'. Surrounding the cinema are street scenes of Baroda life. Figures drop from a riot scene over buildings and vegetables spill from a vendor's cart. Narrow alleys beyond the scene are simultaneously escape routes as well as mazes spelling anxiety. The artist depicts a leper, visible on the top right hand side, nearby rioters strip other men to see whether they are Muslims; tiny figures appear trapped into the veil of a vegetable vendor.

Of the subject the artist has said: 'Our rich and valuable experience of diversity of faiths, ideologies, attitudes, has been brutalized by successive bands of mafiosi, who have subverted the process of continuous and positive transformation that this wonderful mix should normally lead to. My painting is about the irony and absurdity of this brutalization..'

Physical description

The painting, in oil on canvas, depicts the city of Baroda, Gujarat, and the events that took place during the early 1980s. 'City for Sale' represents an epic scene stirred up with the subject of Baroda's communal riots. In the centre one can observe a cinema which is showing the film 'Silsila'. A hoarding painter is shown depicting the eye of a cinematic heroine on a billboard. This scene, as pointed out by the artist, alludes to 'Chakshudana pata', a folk tradition in eastern India, in which a painter fills in the portrait of a person recently deceased, with an eyeball, in an attempt to give vision to the sighteless spirit of the dead.

Surrounding the cinema are street scenes of Baroda life. At the top of the picture is a riot scene, figures spill out over buildings. Narrow alleys beyond the scene can be seen simultaneously as escape routes as well as representing a maze of anxiety. On the top right is a leper, nearby rioters strip other men to see whether they are Muslims. At the bottom left, vegetables spill from a vendor's cart; tiny figures appear trapped into the veil of a vegetable vendor. In the bottom left hand corner are landmarks of Baroda.

See artist's comment on this work in 'Historical Significance'.

Place of Origin

Baroda (made)

Date

1981-1984 (made)

Artist/maker

Sheikh, Gulammohammed, born 1937 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

Signature and date are on the right hand edge of the painting midway on the canvas. Both the title of the work and signature are written in Gujarati.

Dimensions

Height: 204.5 cm, Width: 306 cm

Object history note

Purchased from the artist. RF: 85/74

Historical significance: Of the subject the artist has said: 'Our rich and valuable experience of diversity of faiths, ideologies, attitudes, has been brutalized by successive bands of mafiosi, who have subverted the process of continuous and positive transformation that this wonderful mix should normally lead to. My painting is about the irony and absurdity of this brutalization. The city of Baroda where I live, like other Indian cities, has been brutalized in this way and my painting is about Baroda.'
Gieve Patel has observed that the painting resembles a 'vortex or a volcanic eruption' in which things clash and pour into eachother.

Descriptive line

Painting, City for Sale, by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, painting, oil on canvas, India, 1980-1984

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Rachel Dwyer & Divia Patel, Cinema India: the Visual Culture of the Hindi Film, Reaktion Press, 2002.
Contemporary Art in Baroda, ed. by Gulammohammed Sheikh, published by Tulika, 1997, New Delhi
Patel, Divia: Arts of Asia, vol. 45, no. 5, September - October 2015, p.82, no. 12.

Labels and date

This painting is a response to the film Silsila and the communal riots that broke out in Baroda at the same time. Silsila was a story about a love triangle. The newspapers and were filled with gossip about the alleged adulterous affair between the two leading stars. Critical of the way cinema had become central to life and culture, Sheikh contrasts this superficial world with images of the realities of urban life and the city riots. The painting focuses on a cinema screen which depicts the climactic scene from the film where the wife comes face to face with her husband and his mistress. []

Materials

Oil colour; Canvas

Techniques

Painted

Subjects depicted

City; Cinema; Houses

Categories

Paintings; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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