A cool canvas
Author-curator Ina Puri’s home is a beautiful blend of old inherited treasures in a contemporary setting, says Anupma Mishra
My home is an extension of my personality,” says Ina Puri, author and curator whose love for art finds the perfect canvas in her Gurgaon home. Spectacular paintings by famed Indian artists, digital prints on canvas and rare photographs of Satyajit Ray give her personal space a unique feel.
Puri who moved base from Calcutta to Gurgaon in 2001 might have surrounded herself with her favourite artworks and artefacts, but not for a moment do they look overbearing or out of place. So, be it a pair of big metal pots or the paper sculpture by Zarina Hashmi at the entrance, the antique cabinet picked up from Prague for the living area, or a painting depicting a lion jumping through a ring of fire by Manjit Bawa that greets you as you step in, everything adds to the elegant interiors without cluttering the space.
Puri’s home is a large 3,890sqft apartment on the second floor at The Laburnum in Gurgaon where she lives with her husband, her son, Arjun and their German Shepherd Leylaa Jaan.
A lengthy corridor with immaculate granite flooring is the backbone of the flat as it is flanked by rooms on either side. From the entrance, and to the right of this corridor are the living room, dining area, the kitchen and Arjun’s bedroom while the study, the guest room and the master bedroom lie across them.
Sunlight streams in liberally through the huge bay windows in the living room that offers a mix of the past and the present. For, contemporary leather furniture, a carpet from Istanbul and hand-painted ceramic plates on the centre-table add a modern twist while a puja thali used in wedding rituals harks to a different era. This thali was gifted to Puri’s mother by Subhash Mukhopadhyay, one of the legends of Bengali poetry.
Behind a comfortable couch is a painting by Bawa of a mythical woman inspired by the legend of Sohni. Another huge work by Bawa of a Krishna-like cowherd with a cow and a bird, is displayed on the adjacent wall.
The lights in the living room are special as they have been designed by Lyle Lopez, a well-known lighting designer while some statement lamps have been created by artist Narayan Chandra Sinha.
Other eye-catchers in the living room, like a monolith carved in bronze by renowned artist Himmat Shah, and a hookah that Puri picked up from a village fair in Alwar, add aesthetic nuances to the space. Puri has also imaginatively used the corridor to display more artworks like a painting done in charcoal by artist Thota Vaikuntam and a striking digital print on canvas by Ranbir Kaleka. Titled Conference of Birds and Beasts, it depicts a city with broken flyovers and unfinished construction.
Built on the concept of an open floor plan, the living room seamlessly extends into the kitchen and an adjoining utility area. The space between the living room and kitchen has been used as the dining area that has a six-seater table. “We acquired this dining table in the early days of our marriage from Calcutta’s Marquis Street and later added the silk ikat cushions on the chairs,” recounts Puri.
Across, the study has rows of shelves crammed with books. Another of Bawa’s works makes an appearance in this room, this time a drawing depicting mythological figures of the Narasimha and Prahlad. A ceramic plate painted on by artist Rekha Rodwittiya is displayed on the table.
Then, there’s a portrait of Puri by American artist Waswo X. Waswo and rare photographs of Satyajit Ray by Nemai Ghosh add character to the space. An interesting piece is a winnowing tray — traditionally used in villages to separate grain from the husk — that has a Pattachittra painting of Durga in all her glory.
The master bedroom exudes an old world charm and features a four-poster bed, a study table and a Davenport desk (a small desk with an inclined lifting desktop attached with hinges) and an easy chair. “All the furniture in my bedroom is from Schiraaz Tanksalwalla Auction House in Calcutta,” says Puri.
Terracotta sculptures by Himmat Shah and an old sindurdaan from Benaras kept on her study table are eye-catching while a framed photograph by Pushpamala N. and works of renowned artists like Jamini Roy, K.G. Subramanyan and Chittaprosad add an artistic touch to the room. The room opens into a balcony that has a small sit-out area that also flaunts paintings by Subramanyan and Gopal Ghose.
Puri’s home is a reflection of the lives and aesthetic sensibilities of her family. “It’s a memoir of our lives and fond memories and is really precious to us,” says a smiling Puri.
Photographs by Rupinder Sharma