The World through the eyes of Mario Miranda

Lani McGuinness on prints by one of India’s most beloved cartoonists 

Mario Miranda...by Mario Miranda www.storyltd.com

Mario Miranda…by Mario Miranda
http://www.storyltd.com

If you frequent Cafe Mondegar in Colaba, with its enticing smells and animated crowds, you would perhaps agree that the cafe would not be complete without its iconic Mario Miranda cartoons sprawled across the walls. Widely recognised as one of India’s most popular and gifted cartoonists, Mario Miranda (1926 – 2011) infused a razor-sharp sense of humour in the humdrum. His work featured regularly in many noteworthy Indian newspapers, including the Times of India and the Economic Times.

StoryLTD is celebrating his life and work through four online collections, where a wide range of Mario Miranda prints and drawings are available to buy. Our Limited Edition Prints and Open Edition Prints span his travels across the United States, Europe, China and India, and also cover his interpretations of historical moments as they occurred. Works like “The Barber’s Shop” and “The Street Where I Live” wittily condense scenes that we see unfold around us, with a timely sense of humour. Not all are caricatures, however. Works such as “Colonial Portuguese Architecture” and “Street in Fontainhas” appear inspired by places where he might have been physically present.  Many of his ink and pen caricatures of office and day-today life, and politics, are compiled in our collection of Mario Miranda Originals. Some among you may recollect the Jazz Yatra festivals held between 1980 and 2003; Yatra…and all that Jazz… is a selection of pen, ink, and watercolour sketches that capture the moods of these festivals.

“The Street Where I Live” by Mario Miranda Digital print on paper

“The Street Where I Live”
Digital print on paper

“The Barber’s Shop” by Mario Miranda Digital print on paper

“The Barber’s Shop” 
Digital print on paper

“Street in Fontainhas” by Mario Miranda Digital print on paper

“Street in Fontainhas” 
Digital print on paper

“Colonial Portuguese Architecture” by Mario Miranda Digital print on paper

“Colonial Portuguese Architecture” 
Digital print on paper

Although he never received formal art training, Mario Miranda’s talent was recognised by his friends while he was studying architecture after receiving a B.A. in History. What started as a sideline to make extra money from his friends spiralled into a full-fledged career as a cartoonist. He first gained nationwide popularity through his work in The Illustrated Weekly of India. Through this and other Mumbai-based newspapers, his work grew in popularity. The five years that he lived in England allowed him to travel around Europe extensively, and his work was featured in magazines including Lilliput, Mad and Punch.

A 1980 pen and ink on paper by Mario Miranda From the collection “Mario Miranda, Originals”

A 1980 pen and ink on paper 
From the collection “Mario Miranda, Originals”

A 1970s pen and ink on paper by Mario Miranda From the collection “Mario Miranda, Originals”

A 1970s pen and ink on paper
From the collection “Mario Miranda, Originals”

\“Herbie Mann”, from the collection Yatra...And All That Jazz... Pen and ink on paper

“Herbie Mann”, from the collection Yatra…And All That Jazz… Pen and ink on paper

“Kenny Barron at the Piano”, from the collection Yatra...And All That Jazz... Watercolour, pen and ink on paper

“Kenny Barron at the Piano”, from the collection Yatra…And All That Jazz… Watercolour, pen and ink on paper

In 1974, at the invitation of the United States Information Service, Mario Miranda travelled to the United States to promote his work and meet other cartoonists, including Charles M. Shultz, the creator of the popular comic series “Peanuts”. Yet, despite all his travels, Mario Miranda retained a distinctly Indian flavour. Be it his caricatures or vignettes of the villages of his birthplace Goa and sub-Indian cultures, Miranda’s work reflects his experiences of modern India; frenetic lines and curvaceous women populate almost all his prints and paintings.

Mario Miranda has been recognised internationally with a number of solo exhibitions in many countries, including Japan, Germany, the USA, Spain and France.

A Legend Passes Away: Mrinalini Mukherjee

Rashmi Rajgopal tries rebuilding the image of  the artist and sculptor and asks readers to add in their pieces as well

A photo of Mrinalini Mukherji by Manisha Gera Baswani

A photo of Mrinalini Mukherji by Manisha Gera Baswani

How do you create an image of someone you have never met before in your life? Instinct would drive you to read about this person, or speak with people who knew her. But if you’re looking for something more impactful, simply attend a memorial service being held for that person.

On Friday, February 6, visitors flooded the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi in remembrance of acclaimed artist and sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee. The NGMA, currently holding a retrospective titled “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”, held a memorial service for the artist who, aged 65, had succumbed to a prolonged lung problem last Monday. Among those who spoke fondly of her were Professor Rajeev Lochan, director of the NGMA; Peter Nagy, curator of the ongoing retrospective; critic Geeta Kapur; and some of the artist’s close friends whose messages were read out during the service. As Professor Lochan put it, “It was a tragic irony that Mrinalini was hospitalised just a day before the opening of the solo exhibition and that she could not see the impact it had made on art lovers.”

A photo of Mrinalini Mukherji by Manisha Gera Baswani

A photo of Mrinalini Mukherji by Manisha Gera Baswani

It’s possible that visitors at the memorial were drawn there owing to a deep sense of respect for the artist and her work. It’s possible that some among them were present out of curiosity and, perhaps, were in the dark about the artist. Who was Mrinalini Mukherjee? Why did she matter? What legacy did she leave behind?

For those who knew her, Mrinalini was a woman with a powerful personality, and an emblem for women artists carving their paths in the art world. Over the phone, artist Shukla Sawant spoke of how revolutionary Mrinalini was, as an artist and person. “She had an astonishing personality and lived life on her own terms. For my generation of artists, I think this is very important,” said Shukla.

Mrinalini came from a lineage of artists. Born in 1949 to the illustrious artist pair Binodebehari and Leela Mukherjee, Mrinalini did not let their success overshadow her career, and grew to become a fearless and unconventional artist. She studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda (1965-1970). While there, she discovered hemp fibre and it featured frequently in her sculptures. By choosing to use this unusual medium, often dyed in vibrant shades, she imbued her works with a rare sensitivity and grace of form.

Van Raja (King of the Forest), 1991-1994, Collection: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Van Raja (King of the Forest), 1991-1994, Collection: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Aranyani,1996, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Aranyani, 1996, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Vruksha Nata,1991-92, Collection: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Vruksha Nata, 1991-92, Collection: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Works like Vana Raja, Aranyani, and Vruksha Nata offer a window into the artist’s meticulous mind. With incredible attention to detail, Mrinalini has breathed into them a striking semblance to organic motifs. Every fold and contour has a restrained elegance, yet appears robust.

While hemp carried with it a certain flexibility, she also worked with ceramic and bronze. Her choice of mediums symbolised a gamut of personalities. Ceramic offers a brittle resilience, and bronze possesses a more obstinate strength in its form and nature. Mrinalini’s sculptures were sensuous: they drew from organic forms and resembled plant motifs, but also bore strong sexual undercurrents. She opened a new avenue through her choices and imparted each work with a layered personality.

Forest Flame IV, Bronze, 2009, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Forest Flame IV, Bronze, 2009, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Orange & Green, 2000, Ceramic, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Orange & Green, 2000, Ceramic, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Matrix 4, 2006, Bronze, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Matrix 4, 2006, Bronze, Collection: Jhaveri Contemporary & Nature Morte
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Flora (light), 2000, partially glazed ceramic, Collection: Mirchandani & Steinruecke Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee” Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Flora (light), 2000, partially glazed ceramic, Collection: Mirchandani & Steinruecke
Part of “Transfigurations: The Sculpture of Mrinalini Mukherjee”
Courtesy: The National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

“Transfigurations…” features some remarkable sculptures and encapsulates the legacy she has left behind. Her works are also part of many renowned collections both in India and abroad, such as the NGMA in New Delhi, Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal, the Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi, the Chandigarh State Museum, and the Tate Modern in London.

Mrinalini’s image is far from complete. If you’re reading this, do acquaint yourself with her works and add in your own pieces. We may never get close to building a complete picture – the task is too monumental. But we would be adding to a bigger, richer memory of what she aimed to show the world.

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