Sunday, July 15, 2007

DNA : Meet Tyeb Mehta’s successor

His grandson artist Ali Akbar, who suprisingly wasn’t influenced by the famed painter to take up art!

Turning artist is hardly surprising when you have an artist as reputed as Tyeb Mehta for a grandfather. But Ali Akbar Mehta is quick to dispel the notion that it was his grandfather who influenced him to take up art.

“Not really. I was born in Mumbai but brought up in Delhi for the first 10 years of my life. In fact, I always wanted to start an animation studio but since we did have enough institutes on animation, I got myself enrolled at the JJ School of Arts. And it was my stint at JJ that made me turn to art,” he asserts.

But he admits that it’s great to be the grandson of Tyeb Mehta. “I am proud to be a part of his family and as an artist it gives me great pleasure to share the same platform with him. Moreover, having an artist of his calibre around us is such a privilege,” he affirms.

What is even more interesting is that both grandfather and grandson have painted individual canvases for an upcoming charity auction being organised by the NGO Khushii. While Ali Akbar’s painting is about relationships and hope and is yet to have a name, Tyeb Mehta’s painting doesn’t have a name at all.

“The painting does not have a name. It’s just a human face but then again, I thought a human image would go well with this project,” explains Tyeb.

As far as their inspirations are concerned, Tyeb insists that there is no such thing called inspiration in real terms. “What I look for is something that would move me or surprise me,” he notes. Ali Akbar, for one, is inspired by life and its situations. “It could be a milestone or even a social condition, say the rains and the riots,” he elaborates.

However, ask them about art in India today and the duo agrees that Indian art has definitely come a long way - mainly because art can today be considered as a career option as opposed to earlier when it was frowned upon. “That said, those who t ake up this profession for quick fame will live lavishly only for a while and not in the long run,” warns Tyeb, adding that many Indian artists today do exactly what you’d want him or her to do instead of using their own imagination.

That brings us to their future shows and both admit that work is still on; only in Tyeb’s case, he’s taking things easy. “I have never planned a show in my career. I always work when I feel like it and whenever I am ready, I put up a show,” smiles Tyeb.

Lastly, what is it like for Tyeb to see his works fetch humungous amounts of money? “Well, there are many other great artists in the industry, but it feels great to know that your work and your art are appreciated. Nevertheless, my works fetching such sums has nothing to do with me; once the collector buys the work it’s totally up to him and at what price he wants to sell it. So it’s all based on chance,” he signs off.

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