Ahmedabad, Jan. 29: The throbbing vein of intolerance coursing through the country burst open on art today as VHP and Bajrang Dal activists vandalised a new gallery at Surat in protest against “nudity” and “obscenity” in the paintings of Calcutta artist Chittrovanu Mazumdar on display there.
Early this month, a mob of Sambhaji Brigade activists, apparently incensed over objectionable remarks by author James Laine in his book on Shivaji, had ransacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune, damaging several rare books and priceless manuscripts.
The gallery has been closed after more than three dozen paintings were damaged.
Varachha police have registered a case of vandalism against the saffron activists, who barged into the gallery this evening and tore down the paintings they found objectionable.
The vandals were apparently angered by a Mazumdar painting depicting Durga in the nude with the picture of a condom on it and a caption: “For single use only”.
On display at the Garden Gallery of Art and Textiles, inaugurated by M.F. Husain on Sunday, were over 150 paintings by renowned artists like K.K. Hebbar, S.H. Raza and Tyeb Mehta, besides Husain and Mazumdar.
Inaugurating the gallery, located on the premises of the Garden Silk Mills, Husain had described it as one of the best in the country.
Following the attack, the owner of the gallery, Praful Shah, proprietor of Garden Silk Mills and an artist himself, gave the vandals in writing that he would remove Husain and Mazumdar’s paintings. Moreover, he would consult them whenever he decides to reopen the gallery to ensure that any painting which can hurt the sentiment of the people is not put on display.
Local VHP chief Vinu Nigada said they were protesting against nudity. “We have no objection if the gallery is reopened, provided such objectionable paintings are not displayed.”