New Delhi: Fronting the majestic India Gate lies another regal structure with an impressive facade, the Jaipur House. Once the New Delhi abode of the Jaipur royal family, the building once hosted several royal gatherings and grand functions. It comes loaded with great historical significance. However, today the building houses another kind of royalty, the artistic works of the great masters of Indian modern art.
Jaipur House was transformed into the National Gallery of Modern Art in 1956. Beneath its tall ceilings and within its red sandstone walls, several prominent artists who defined the Indian modern art, stay alive. Just as you enter the Jaipur House, you're introduced to the many artists whose work is on display in the gallery. The newly renovated building, while maintaining the architectural value of the space, now exhibits the artwork 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 or her 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 walk further in, you can see the artworks, the portraits of the masters of their art and the beautiful walls of Jaipur House adorning and complementing each other.
In every section that is now dedicated to a particular artist, from inside the big rooms to the outside on their walls, the work of these artists is on display, along with their portraits. It's almost as if in these rooms, along with these artworks, the artists also reside still. As we keenly observe their work, it's almost synonymous to going on a journey with these artist, witnessing the evolution of their work.
Today, the art connoisseurs, enthusiasts, critics, appreciators and even those who don't know a thing about art, can witness the beauty of Indian modern art in all its glory. A major credit to this goes to the work that has gone behind making the display of these artworks just as glorious. Every section of the Jaipur House has been modified to compliment the artist and their art exhibited there. While Shergil's corridors are imbibed in the colour red, Roerich's work is exhibited in dark blue rooms with paintings illuminated from beneath and Jamini Roy's work resides in gorgeous wooden rooms.
In case of Amrita Shergil, one can see the naiveness of a young yet graceful artist through the initial works she did in Europe. One can also witness the shift in subjects and treatment of her art as she came back to India to discover her Indian roots. On one of walls, besides her European style portrait, is written her quote which says, "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."
As one takes a step in the room exhibiting Nicholas Roerich's work, the breathtaking beauty of Himalayas and North Indian mountain ranges in his paintings will surely consume you. The same is the case with the works of masters such as Jamini Roy, Abindranath Tagore, Ramkinker Baij and Sailoz Mookherjea and several others.