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Elephants in the room

While the identical elephants are 18x21 inches in size, the highlight of the show is a life-sized elephant installation by Paresh Maity, titled Life’s Journey.

Written by Divya A |
November 30, 2015 12:00:09 am
(From left) Elephants painted by Paresh Maity; Nayanaa Kanodia; Jayasri Burman (From left) Elephants painted by Paresh Maity; Nayanaa Kanodia; Jayasri Burman

What brings together Amitabh Bachchan and Anjolie Ela Menon? And what is common between Salman Khan and SH Raza? It’s their love for elephants. As many as 50 of the country’s best known artists — including Subodh Gupta, Jayasri Burman, Nayanaa Kanodi, Binoy Varghese, Bose Krishnamachari and Ram Kumar, and five topmost Bollywood actors — Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan — have lent their unique touch to an array of white fibreglass elephants over the past three months. These 70 works will now be put on display in the Capital as part of an exhibition and sale.

Union Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who also heads the NGO People For Animals (PFA), has put together the exhibition in association with Art Alive gallery, as a fundraiser for Wildlife SOS, which runs an elephant rehab facility near Mathura. While the identical elephants are 18×21 inches in size, the highlight of the show is a life-sized elephant installation by Paresh Maity, titled Life’s Journey. “Maity’s work is generally influenced by nature and environment, and this looks like an extension of his expression,” says Sunaina Anand, director of Art Alive. “Most artists have displayed their signature style while working on this new form and medium, but some have thought out-of-the-box, specially those whose themes have never revolved around nature,” adds Anand.

As for the actors, while Aamir says his work is inspired by his film Taare Zameen Pe, Bachchan has painted two elephants in a very minimalistic style, mostly retaining the white background. On the contrary, Shah Rukh, Salman and Kumar have entirely covered the elephants with a splash of colour.

“Even though Asian elephants have the highest degree of legal protection, no one rescues them because the government has not set up any rehab facility. As a private facility, the ECCC takes care of 22 elephants. It costs approximately Rs 1 lakh a month to take care of an elephant,” says Gandhi, adding, “There are only 22,000 elephants left in India, out of which 6,000 are in illegal captivity in circuses and temples. Let art do the talking now.” The exhibition is on at Le Meridien, Janpath, Delhi, till November 30.

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