The plastic neon comb, a must-have for roadside Romeos, is now exhibit A at Mumbai’s National Gallery of Modern Art—artist Bose Krishnamachari has used combs to make an installation at the museum’s annual Ideas and Images art show. The museum has set up street vendors’ stalls and had renowned artists come in and make digital prints, paintings and installations to explore the idea of an innate and informed sense of art.
Pinakin Patel, an architect and interior designer, made the stalls and then invited artists like Payal Khandwala to make a grainy yellow painting of a bhel stall, Bose Krishnamachari to come up with an installation using combs and Dashrath Patel to make digital prints of rose bunches wrapped in old newspapers and white paper bags. Along with works of established artists, there were some unexpected presences—flower and string stalls from the old and grimy but ever popular flower market under a flyover in Dadar and assorted Bombay specialities that crowd up the city and define low art. The exhibits bring in rare snapshots of a kitschy, gritty and strangely beautiful city into the museum.
Nadir Shah Noori, who owns a string stall in Dadar’s flower market, and other stall owners made appearances at the show’s opening along with well known celebrities. Noori, who sells string which is used to tie bunches of prayer flowers and to make garlands for deities, spends hours every morning decorating his Dadar shop, hanging strings from the roof. Although he’s known as a character in the market for his own colourful clothes and his unique shop, he’s amazed that he’s included in the exhibit for having a pretty shop. "Mine is the only shop in the market without any furniture. I had got a lot of it made but it all got burned in the Bombay riots in 1992. Since then I keep things on the floor and hang some from the roof."
By Saumya Roy