10 April, 2021

Of God And Beast

Tyeb Mehta reinvents Mahishasura in a modernist metaphor

Of God And Beast

THE goddess and the demon, an all-pervasive component of the Indian psyche, finally seep into contemporary art. Well-known painter Tyeb Mehta has made a series of nine powerful works which reinvent the myth in an eminently modernist metaphor. In these works which hang at New Delhi's Vadehra Art Gallery from this week, the demon buffalo's convulsive destruction evokes the frothing spectre of violence which can overpower all forms of life.

 In a forceful work, Mahishasura, the buffalo who changed into a lion, then horse and finally the demon, are interlocked in fierce combat, within as much as without, sending a reeling movement across the canvas. The buffalo's anguished head which writhes in agony resonates Picasso's beast in Guernica who let out a similar howl against the ravages of war. The buffalo's pulsating body forms the diagonal anchor for the incessantly emerging beasts, their limbs and torsos overlapping, yet dismembered from each other and seeming to act of their own. If agony casts its long shadow over the forms, the blazing...

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