Palekar ques­tions nat’l gallery’s ‘ar­bi­trari­ness’

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - TNN & AGEN­CIES

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.”

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