A new look Jaipur House, showcasing modern Indian art
New Delhi: In front of the majestic India Gate is another royal structure with an impressive facade, the Jaipur House. Once the residence in New Delhi of the royal family of Jaipur, the building has already hosted several royal gatherings and large receptions. It is loaded with great historical significance. However, today the building houses another kind of royalty, the artistic works of the great masters of modern Indian art.
Jaipur House was transformed into the National Gallery of Modern Art in 1956. Beneath its high ceilings and red sandstone walls, several eminent artists who defined Indian modern art remain alive. As soon as you enter the Jaipur house, you are introduced to the many artists whose work is displayed in the gallery. The recently renovated building, while retaining the architectural value of the space, now exhibits the works of several masters of modern art in different sections.
From the central dome of the house, which sometimes hosts a virtual exhibition of the work of different artists, one can find his way upstairs to the individual galleries housing the works of artists such as Amrita Shergil, Nicolas Roerich, Jamini Roy, Ramkinkar Baij and Abindranath Tagore among others. As you go, you can see the works of art, the portraits of the masters of their art and the beautiful walls of Jaipur’s house adorning and complementing each other.
In each section now dedicated to a particular artist, from inside the large halls to outside on their walls, the work of these artists is exhibited, accompanied by their portraits. It’s almost as if in these rooms, next to these works, the artists still reside. Observing their work carefully is almost synonymous with traveling with these artists, witnessing the evolution of their work.
Today, art connoisseurs, enthusiasts, critics, appreciators and even those who know nothing about art, can witness the beauty of modern Indian art in all its glory. A major credit to this goes to the work that went into making the display of these works of art just as glorious. Each section of the Jaipur house has been altered to compliment the artist and his art displayed there. While Shergil’s hallways are soaked in red color, Roerich’s work is displayed in dark blue rooms with paintings illuminated from below and Jamini Roy’s work resides in beautiful wooden rooms.
In the case of Amrita Shergil, the naïveté of a young but graceful artist can be seen through the early works she made in Europe. One can also witness the change of subjects and treatment of her art as she returns to India to discover her Indian roots. On one of the walls, next to her European-style portrait, is her quote which reads: “I can only paint in India. Elsewhere I am not natural, I have no self-confidence. Europe belongs to Picasso, Matisse, Braque and many others. India belongs only to me.”
When one steps into the room displaying the work of Nicholas Roerich, the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas and North Indian mountain ranges in his paintings will surely consume you. The same goes for the works of masters such as Jamini Roy, Abindranath Tagore, Ramkinker Baij and Sailoz Mookherjea and several others.