By Rudolf Ludwig Kammermeier

ART IS ABOUT GIVING, like science and religion, unlike
commerce and warfare. The first three stand on the positive
side of human values. A community or society is measured by
its history and not only by how much creative energy can be
materialized, and how much can be destroyed. Commerce and
warfare are traditional allies, generated and controlled by

The first three represent the trio of the renaissance idea --
godness, beauty and truth. They all hover around the concept
of the mustard seed: out of a very small seed a big plant

Look at Einstein's equation E-mc2. These few letters, well
understood, could change the world entirely. In social terms,
beauty and truth are crucial to the development and
well-being of any society. Again, beauty or creativity has to
be nurtured in all forms and sizes: from the small garden,
the local handicraft up to the academic painter.

Artists are walking seismographs. And only lesser individuals
do still ingore them; but generally this fact is accepted
everywhere. Any sensitive artist, whether in music, theatre
or art, delas with his environment either consciously or
subconsciously; this is the important aspect of art because
it gives clues to where a society stands and where it's going.

     Come to Goa and Goan society, I try to imagine that
     there is a transformation on the way. But I am not sure. 
     The fact is that Goans have treated their 'seismographs'
     with a cold shoulder at best. Nevertheless, Goan artists
     do well, if not at home, then outside Goa or even abroad.

In the case of the previous generation of artists, they
belong to the best India has produced, and therefore, I will
briefly discuss a few of the important artists: FN Souza,
Gaitonde, Prafulla Dahanulkar, Anandmohan Naik and Mario
Miranda. The present generation is mainly active within the
boundaries of Goa, but it's too early to judge. However,
there is no doubt that some of them may play an excellent
role in contemporary Indian art.

Francis Newton Souza, the enfant terrible of Indian art, was
born in 1924 in Saligao, lost his father as a child and his
caring mother moved with him to Bombay. His character was
described as one of ambivalence, thriving on adrenalin with
violent as well as creative outbursts.

He knew no bounds; the rebel was expelled from school, as the
Jesuit fathers did nto appreciate his pornographic drawings
on the walls of the school lavoratories.

He was sixteen then, free, and decided to become an artist.
He joined the JJ School of Art in 1940, where he trained in
the solid tradition of Eastern and Western academic. Souza
matered these academic norms and turned to political
activism. His rebellious nature and patriotic stance resulted
in his expulsion.

In 1947, Souza initiated the Progressive Artists' Group (PAG)
together with other upcoming painters like Hussain, Raza,
Ara, Gade and Bakre. With the formation of this group, Souza
set the stage for contemporary Indian art. In 1949 Souza left
for London.

His early years in London were difficult and empty. He earned
some money by occasional journalism and with irregular
commissions. He made a breakthrough in 1955 at the newly
opened Gallery One.

Souza's themes revolve aroun dhis Catholic background and his
criticism of it. Theodore Mesquita wrote, "... he meditates
subversively upon the various instances from the Old and New
Testaments. He reflects and transcends all the narrative
contours inherited, and evokes his relation and
identification with the picture of Christ being an effigy of
his existence through which he ponders. Reflecting the spirit
of atheistic existentialism, he (Souza) once wrote, '... and
you there on the top of a single furnished room, smoking,
standing at the window, expressionless city man that you are,
your suffering is far more complex than the obviously simple
tortured expression of one crowned with thorns and impaled
with nails.'"

Souza died three years ago in Bombay, no family members were
at the funeral and only three from the art scene came.

One of the three who came to Souza's funeral was Anandmohan
Naik. He is a Goan by descent but has lived mostly in Bombay.

Souza and Gaitonde become doyens of Indian art, but it was
not the case with Anandmohan Naik. I think he is one of the
most underrated artists in the present Indian art scene. In
the 'sixties and 'seventies, he was a key figure in Bombay
and his house was the meeting place of many of the now-famous

He taught and instructed them. He is an alumni of the
Shantiniketan school of art, and studied under Ram Kinker
Bej, an artist of extraordinary qualities whose sculoptures
are rated in line with Rodin.

     Anandmohan Naik is one of the very few artists today in
     India who has mastery over a rare medium like 'old egg
     tempera'. He went away from Bombay for many years and
     when he returned, he found himself sidelined. 
     Nevertheless, his earlier work is one of the most
     influential in India, that paved the way to abstraction.

Vasudev S Gaitonde is generally associated with abstract art.
Born to Goan parents in Nagpur, he never lived in Goa, unlike
the other Goan artists who were at some stage of their lives
in Goa.

A contemporary of FN Souza, Gaitonde studied at JJ School of
Art and sympathized with the Progressive Artist Group.
However, he remained on the fringes of the movement. He was
evidently searching his own way. A social transition was
imminent at that time; artists were searching their wayout of
the thick layers of dust of the colonial academician.

Some did it the radical way, others preferred by inventing
new indigenous sets and patterns of a new language. Gaitonde
chose the road towards abstraction in a manner no one else
has. Single-minded, a quite Zen-like character in deep
thought, he seeks after the ultimate thruths. He does not
even call his work 'abstract' but refers to it as
'non-bjective', implying a metaphoric language like you find
in the Koans of Zen Buddhism.

Gaitonde is generally accepted as India's foremost abstract
painter, recipient of the 'Padmashree', the 'Kalidasa Samman'
and 'J.D.Rockerfeller Fellowship Award', he has invluenced
diverse schools of abstraction, like Kolte, Laxman Shrestra
and others.

Gaitonde was particularly close to another important Goan
painter, Prafulla Dahanukar. They even shared a studio.
Dahanukar is quite the oppposite character -- a dominant
appearance with a commanding voice and intelligent sparkling
eyes. She translates the remote intellectual Koanic Zen
language onto her canvasses, while Gaitonde's approach,
though meditative, is heavier and more 'present in the real

One can sit in front of Dahanukar's canvas and dream the
whole day; you get lost in it. Gifted with a captivating
personality, Dahanukar still plays a major role in the
promotion of Indian art. She was the President of the Bombay
Art Society, and presently she is the President of the
Society of Indian Art and the ARtist Centre. She is also
affiliated to, and has been a guiding voice to, the Kala
Academy in Goa for thirty years.

     Mario Miranda does not exactly fit into the category of
     fine art, he is a cartoonist, but a truly special one. 
     If Mumbai weren't so full of people, you could see the
     many cartoons he has done in that city, and how much
     more he could have done if they had allowed him! Instead
     of pollution, humour! Instead of guys with big money and
     girls with big boobs! And all that free on the walls.

Science tell sus that the only real difference between humans
and animals is that animals have no sense of humour. With
this in mind, Mario Miranda becomes one of the real important
individuals of the human species.

His inspiration clearly comes from the Goan Catholic folks;
you need only go to church, you see them all, and Mario also
divines their thoughts. There is nobody who depicts Goans and
their nature better than he. They are exactly how he shows

The artists of the earlier generation had to move out of Goa
to sustain themselves. There was no art in Goa. This changed
in the 'seventies with the establishment of the Goa College
of Art under its first principal Laxman Pai, himself an
eminent Goan artist.

With Pai's foresight and the artistic and intellectual skills
of the head of the Painting Department, D Harihar, the
college went ahead and produced in those first years, indeed,
a number of excellent artists like Theodore Mesquita, Hanuman
Kambli, Yolanda de Souza, Querozito de Souza, Nirupa Naik,
later Mohan Naik, Suhas Shilker, Rajashree Thakkar, Sonia
Rodrigues, Rajan Fulari.

     For whatever reasons, the flow of production of
     highly-skilled artists dried up; only lately we find
     again a slight increase in serious talent coming out of
     the Art College.

It's often the opportunity that produces an artist. With more
and more galleries coming up in the last few years, interest
may have been sparked in the gifted youngsters who are taking
art more seriously.

Fifteen years ago, there was no one you could call an artist
-- except those who had a secure government or teaching job;
but they are usually non-productive. Then, a few gave up
their professions and jobs to go out into the unknown: Subodh
Kerkar gave up his medical profession, then Mohan Naik his
teaching job, Yolanda de Souza her Government career, and
others followed. I consider these decisions as the real
birthdays of Goan art; all this, against great odds.

In the beginning of the 'nineties, 'The Flying Dutchman' saw
the opportunity and started his successful gallery. Mohan
Naik, Suhas Shilker and Rajashree Thakkar were 'born' there.

After his closure, Art Chamber, Galeria de Belas Artes was
established in 1997-98 and continues this work. From a small
grup of five or six artists, now suddenly all the latent
talent got a chance to exhibit, not only young artists who
never really exhibited, but lecturers, senior artists, and
international artists as well. this was the time when people
began seriously looking at art. Going round in circles, art
had already become en vogue!

     One should not forget Subodh Kerkar; he was very5B
     successful even before 'The Flying Dutchman' came onto
     the scene, but he remained all these years a 'solo
     entertainer'. Only lately, he started using his gallery
     to promote local artists and those from abroad. Now,
     there are at least 15 galleries, apart from the museums
     and libraries and other institutions in the state. And
     the trend is growing.

Kala Academy has hosted State Art Exhbitions for many years.
Fundacao Oriente came with a delegation to Goa in 1994. The
Portuguese Consulate General has taken up, very recently, the
cause and promotes Goan artists independently on the national
and international levels.

But what gave art a real, as well as unexpected, boost was
the Fontainhas Festival of the Arts in Panjim in January
2002. It made art more credible than it was before, and Goans
saw, for the first time, the creationsof their homegrown
artists. It must have been like a cultural showck ofr many of
them! They streamed into the improvised galleries in the
thousands -- something unheard of in Goa before.

Coming back to the beginning of our story, Goa has changed
and the development of art is clearly visible. However, it is
still simmering under a cover: like a bird that is not yet
born. It is just trying to break out of the eggshell. Art is
still far from being a major force in society in Goa as it is
today in Mumbai or Delhi. It only got noticed.

On the other hand, during the 'nineties, politics in Goa went
really out of control. I was always scared that the hunger
for power of some might just one day kill that tiny
vulnerable plant called art. If art is about giving, politics
and commerce is the art of taking and anything is good enough
if it serves the purpose to gain money and power. I see art
still threatened every day.

May be that's why I consider the International Film Festival
of India a still-born child, because it is based on those
wrong assumptions of utilizing an art-form for ulterior
motives or using it for something else. Either art stands for
itself, or there is no art. Muse is no prostitute; you have
to be worthy of her -- or perish.

It could be so different with the visual arts. They flow
basically in the blood of Goans, whether it's tracked or not,
like music. Art can play a major role in Goa if citizens as
well as the government acdept it as a very precious gift, and
not as a commodity, which a few people will always try to

     Because Goa is predestined to become the window of India
     of the world, it needs something special to attract
     people. Many come here to see something, or to
     experience something, and fall in love with it.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Rudolf Ludwig Kammermeier has a Masters in
Sociology and Philosophy and studied piano with Professor
Steger, a leading pianist in Germany. He has composed four
musical plays and worked in various theatres in Zurich,
Vienna and Regenburg. He has curated several art exhibitions
in Bavaria, and also the Christian art exhibition 'Bridging
the Gaps through the Gospel' in Old Goa during the 2004
Exposition of St Francis Xavier. Since 1977, he runs the
Galeria de Belas Artes in Calangute. 

This essay is from PARMAL, the annual journal of the Goa
Heritage Action Group. To join this group's cybernetwork, see
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/goaheritage or email its editor
Prava Rai who is currently working on the next edition

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