Celebrating Sara!

Chennai is “Celebrating Sara” was a message that percolated through three different newspapers and one magazine, over the weekend, so V and I decided to succumb to the silent urgings of mass media and track down this Samukha Art Gallery (right before Raintree evidently) and take a peek at the private collection of an extremely intriguing individual.

Geeta Doctor’s book, sharing the title of the exhibition, which welcomes visitors at the entrance of the gallery (located in the same compound as a gorgeous house) describes the collector, Sara Abraham as a variety of things, but we sorta hastily dropped the book at the mention of her “withering glance”!

Abraham, who started off as an artist (her sketches of her grand children and historical personages like Einstein and Nehru – who have also autographed the pictures are also on display) at the Madras School of Arts and Crafts, went on to become an art connoisseur, collector and promoter. She created Kalayatra, a travelling exhibition, aimed at exposing people from across the country to art from various parts of it based on a suggestion of M.F. Hussain, a friend.

Indeed there are two levels of awe involved with this exhibition – one, the expected awe and delight at being able to glimpse at the work of some of the finest contemporary Indian artistes, ranging from Hussain, to Tyeb Mehta, Gogi Saroj Pal, Laxma Goud, among many others. The other level of awe comes from the glimpses at letters written by artistes like Goud to her, with little illustrations on the side, with the velvet encased portrait of her done by Hussain especially for her 60th birthday, with the brand new paintings that have been sent over the past weekend as presents for her 80th birthday…

The lady at the gallery told us that Ms. Abraham is extremely possessive of her collection and was persuaded to reveal some of the treasures as part of a celebration of her 80th birthday. One is grateful to whoever succeeded in the persuading – personally I know little of art, but you don’t need to be Einstein to appreciate beauty. Drop by Samukha, where “Celebrating Sara” is on till Feb 23rd. It’s a rare treat worth the visit.

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