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January 11, 2016

A look inside: Kala Ghoda Musings by Sameer Kulavoor

by Maanasi Hattangadi

In a figurative spate of bustling motion and unmeasurable details, Kala Ghoda Musings, a limited edition art print by Sameer Kulavoor captures the ebullient intricacies of the static and daily subculture of Kala Ghoda.

Within the amazing diversity of and the magical mayhem of Mumbai, its suburban precinct Kala Ghoda truly has it all. For most of us, the bylanes of Kala Ghoda are a heady mix, with places of historic and cultural relevance, and nooks full of life: the kind that set a rhythm for automatised wandering.

With its idiosyncratic charisma and the rambling oddities and ends that occupy its everyday life, it has been evocatively drawn and designed as a limited-edition print by visual artist and illustrator Sameer Kulavoor of Bombay Duck Designs.

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Encased within a neon pink folder of 14″x 8.5″, stark monochromatic accordion, folds of the Offset Lithography print, tinged originally in graphite in their expanse, allow for the beautifully drawn lines to take centre stage. Sameer’s sense of the colloquial events is remarkable and he conjures up the manyness of Kala Ghoda in an inimitable way.

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“An ornate gothic street lamp, art spilling onto pavements, an arch of a colonial era building, ‘cutting’ chai, heavily-guarded naval posts, ‘jumbo-glass’ sugarcane juice, overloaded parking lots, an Irani chair, street-side music makers, art deco motifs engraved in stone, a smelly fish market, water-pumps hand-painted signages, haphazard extensions to buildings, small businesses, fashion boutiques, the stock exchange, big businesses, narrow ‘arty’ lanes, discreet bookshops, a stimulating conversation over coffee, heated debates over surmai tawa fry, bonding over beer, hordes of lawyers, tourists, wanderers, explorers, horses… layers of history…

I believe Kala Ghoda is one of the most diverse and fascinating places in Bombay, full of interesting juxtapositions. I have observed this area closely over several years and it still doesn’t cease to amaze and surprise me. ‘Kala Ghoda Musings’ is my little tribute to this beautiful microcosm” – reads as an insight on the folder.

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Injected both with the pace and stillness of the setting, the sketches are steeped in scenes of insides and outsides rooted around distinguishable spaces such as the Rhythm House, Jehangir Art Gallery, Horniman Circle Garden (even stretching to include Gateway of India, BSE amid many such), the singularities, the ubiquitous BEST bus, and the curiosities of an onlooker, a street-hawker, a tourist, or a commuter which enliven the winding lanes.

Over a panel of 13″ by 38”, each scene is collated and connected to another in composition and meaning.

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It is generously detailed with incredible breadth and awareness. The effect is pictorial and it opens up with recognition of each element. “Kala Ghoda has been a very integral part of my journey as a visual artist. My junior college and art school both were very close to Kala Ghoda. I have made innumerable visits to the area and have been fortunate to see it transform from close quarters.

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This panoramic art print is unique because I drew it impulsively/freely and without much planning (more art, less design). The graphite lines have been reproduced as they were,” he mentions in an introductory email. Privy to Sameer’s personal tryst with the neighbourhood and his perceptions, it is a visual feast.

Unreservedly, it offers a pause – a moment that brings all the ethereal frenzy of the place alive – in your hand; leaving you to discover.

For design aficionados and collectors: only 300 copies have been released for this limited edition art print – each signed and numbered by the artist. Avail your copy on Paper Plane here.

Maanasi Hattangadi is an architect based in Goa and leads a content initiative on architecture entitled Matter. She is also involved with developing Kokum, an interdisciplinary resource programme with a focus on ‘Design in the Public Domain’. 

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