In a bid to celebrate the World Book and Copyright Day, Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan is organising an exhibition of water colour paintings and illustrations by Bangalore based artist/cartoonist/illustrator Paul Fernandes, which will be inaugurated on April 23 at Max Mueller Bhavan at 6:30 pm. The exhibition will carry some of Fernandes’ most celebrated water colour works that depict the Bangalore of the 70s and will be on display till May 7.
Paul, who has recently launched his coffee-table book, Bangalore Swinging in the ‘70s, took some time out to speak with City Express. “I don’t think I can particularly pick out a moment for when I decided to do this particular coffee table book. The idea has been evolving roughly for about the last 10 years, and like the time it tries to capture (the 70s) it took place quite slowly and at its own pace,” says Paul.
When asked why he specifically picked Bangalore of the 70s, he says, “I would really say it was such a peaceful and laid-back time. Bangalore was truly a gentle city that liked to live in a peaceful fashion. It was a time when people walked and cycled everywhere. They were beautiful times.”
“I do wish that it would slow down a little, but who am I to wish? I think Bangalore over the last 50 years, has witnessed more change than any other city in India. From a pensioner’s paradise to a garden city to a pub city, to the Silicon valley, to now it’s even being called Knowledge city and what not. With all this change, there is no question of really slowing it down. But I do wish that of what we have left, like the trees and the beautiful lakes, we would take better care of them and turn them into heritage sites,” he continues.
Paul in his cartoons and paintings has perfectly managed to capture the allure and magic of a Bangalore we knew a few years ago, but is now quickly fading. Is there any particular moment, space or landmark Paul would like to bring back to life now? “Well if you ask me about landmarks, I think of the beautiful stretch of road that is MG Road. The MG road of the 70s was a very different place. It had not only lovely old British houses lining it but it was also the centre of business and along side we had the cinemas and the pubs and the various local eateries. It was truly a thriving place and I wish I could see it like that again,” answers promptly.
Paul currently owns a gallery at Richards Town, where he sells his paintings as well as other knick-knacks bearing his signature work. “aPaulogy been around for a little over two years. I wasn’t particularly involved in setting up the place really. Earlier, I used to work on the house dining table. Overtime the members of my household grew tired of me, and the gallery happened I suppose. And I’d say it’s been doing really well. We have all kinds of people walking in, even school kids, curious about what they might find here. We also get busloads of NRI’s, who want to find out more about the Bangalore of the olden days,” he informs.
People familiar with Mario Miranda’s work, will undoubtedly find its spirit lingering in most of Paul’s collection. “Mario Miranda was a truly exceptional artist, his work speaks to virtually every single community in India and he always manages to extract a smile. Another person who has really influenced my work is Peter Colaco, he helped me analyse my thoughts and shake away some of my laziness as well,” he laughs.