Tina Chandroji’s oil on canvas paintings are like an arranged symphony. Garlands made of marigold, rose and jasmine, baskets full of petals and bouquets holding delicate stems, all neatly arranged inside a flower shop. Chandroji’s painting looks so real that you can almost smell the scent of flowers. And that’s not all. Her portrayal of Indian-ness in this unusual way surfaces in the form of a bakery, music shop, vegetables and fruit shop, grocery shop, carpet shop, wine shop and even an office space. What connects all these paintings — apart from their stunningly real and meticulous depiction — is the presence of god in every work.
Mumbai based Chandroji, 34, believes that god is omnipresent and is a part of every aspect of our lives. This is the thought behind her new body of works which will be exhibited in a show titled Cityscapes at the Visual Arts Gallery, New Delhi, from September 12. Presented by Mumbai’s Art Space gallery, the show includes 19 paintings in oil on canvas. Born in a Gujarati joint family of jewellers, Chandroji recalls that it was a childhood passion to paint that took her to JJ School of Art in 2001. “I have always been inspired by our cultural upbringing. Whether one lives in metros, villages or anywhere in the universe, one is in constant touch with god. My paintings connect us to the greatest gods of Indian culture. From roadside hawkers to offices of multinational companies, we are all connected to god.”
Says curator Dr Alka Pande, “Chandroji ‘unpacks’ the supremacy of belief in god within the Indian tradition. The figures — Jesus, Ram-Sita and Buddha — occupy the central space within the frame of modern day decor. The coming together of religion and other mercantile goods draws the view closer to the multiplicity of Indian art. Born in the metropolitan state of Mumbai, she has witnessed the togetherness of cultures — urban and rural, centre and periphery. She explores and dismantles this binary through her artworks. The dialogue between art, politics and culture seek democratic art form, where the independence of artists lies in the fact that celebrates the cross-cultural framework.”
Her ornately detailed works create an impact that only realism can. The work titled Antiques, for instance, is a delight to behold. Chandeliers and clocks, furniture and gramophone, artefacts and cabinets so neatly arranged that every single element comes together to resemble a real shop. Or consider the work titled Vegetable Stall. Multicoloured vegetables bunched together in artistic heaps, a transistor radio, photographs, hanging lamps, blue plastic bags hung on the wall — there is a photographic quality to each work of hers. “As an Indian, you would have seen shops like these,” says Chandroji. “These are sights that I have grown up seeing in Mumbai. They are present all over India. If you observe, you will see that every shop in India has a god’s picture, another tradition unique to our culture,” she says.
(Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on visual arts for unboxedwriters.com)