20 October, 2020

His First Intaglios

Ebrahim Alkazi was an artist before becoming a theatre director of genius. An exhibition of early canvases show the confidence, sureness of touch and ambition of a major talent.

From The Archive
A Blind King, mixed media
Image Courtesy: Art Heritage
His First Intaglios

“What art lost, theatre gained.” This is the epigrammatic manner in which I first heard, as a teenager, of Ebrahim Alkazi’s paintings and drawings. The assessment came from my mentor, the poet and art critic Nissim Ezekiel, one of Alkazi’s closest friends from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. The two men remained in touch, although one would migrate to Delhi and transform the National School of Drama into a powerhouse of creativity in theatre, while the other would anchor himself in Mumbai and sustain a vibrant ethos for poetry around the PEN All-India Centre.

To most people, Alkazi—who turned 94 on October 18—is a foundational figure of postcolonial Indian theatre, a mentor to several generations of actors on stage and screen. The art world knows him as a champion of Indian modernism. A serial institution-builder, he founded, co-founded or transfigured the Theatre Group, the Theatre Unit, the National School of Drama, Art Heritage, Sepia International, and the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts. These achievements have, however, eclipsed...



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