Palekar questions nat’l gallery’s ‘arbitrariness’
Veteran actor-filmmaker Amol Palekar on Sunday said he would find out, if needed, the “arbitrariness” behind the policy changes in conducting exhibitions at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai. “I will certainly look for answers to the changed process on whose work should be exhibited at the gallery. I will confront the government on the changes,” he said.
Palekar, accompanied by his wife Sandhya Gokhale, was addressing the press in Pune following Friday’s incident at NGMA-Mumbai where he was interrupted during his speech. Palekar, who was invited as a speaker for the inauguration of artist Prabhakar Barwe’s retrospective exhibition, was interrupted by the NGMA director and the exhibition curator when he tried to speak against the “government’s arbitrary decisions” regarding the gallery.
NGMA has been placed directly under the control of the Union culture ministry since October. Before that, it had an advisory committee comprising local artists which decided on the exhibitions to be held at its Bengaluru and Mumbai centres. Palekar said, “I also learnt Barwe’s exhibition would be the last retrospective as a decision had been taken that of the five floors at the NGMA, only the fifth floor (the dome) would exhibit works of artists outside of NGMA. Two other retrospectives planned during the year had been cancelled... Nobody knows who took these decisions,” he said.
Palekar said the NGMA director interrupted him and told him to talk only about Barwe. To this, Palekar said he told the director not to pre-censor his speech and that whatever he was speaking was in connection with Barwe. “There was no kind of briefing from the curator, who invited me, on what should the topic of my speech should be... Had I been briefed and told not to speak against the government, I would have chosen not to accept the invitation,” he said.
With opposition parties, including the Congress, CPI (M) and the SP, lashing out at art gallery over the issue, NGMA director general Adwaita Gadanayak told a new agency that the advisory committees have not been dissolved.“Their terms have ended recently and they are in the process of being reconstituted. For artists whose works were being showcased it was not less than a wedding. It is a big event in their lives. It was not the right platform for him (Palekar) to raise such issues,” Gadanayak said. Asked if any action will be taken against those who interrupted Palekar's speech, he said, “We will do something.”