A sonata, by definition, is a composition created for a single instrument. Varying inflections and vibrations of a singular sound affect the listener’s eardrum to produce rhythmic sensations. This subtle movement’s wriggle and touch on the sensory organs builds a sublime structure within the mind. The surface of consciousness synchronizes with the tempo in a flow by which a sonata furthers itself — disabling any imposed comprehension yet developing an expected oneness.

Oneness was Gaitonde’s lifelong quest. He did not choose the language he harnessed, but it sought a sensitive vista through him. Gaitonde only continued to paint — a sole medium — throughout his life, transcending the phases that influenced and inspired him to form a unique sojourn.

The sonata that was being composed during his lifetime, now materialises itself in a series of volumes conceived by Jesal Thacker. The concept behind this project germinated during her formative years at Sir J. J. School of Art. An assignment introduced her to Gaitonde through an image in a catalogue. This one image stirred her towards a deep research into the artist’s life and formed the genesis of Bodhana Arts and Research Foundation. This diligent journey of many years maps and traces the life of Vasudeo Gaitonde to comprehend and interpret the sonatas of his paintings. It ultimately proceeds towards attaining oneness with his sentience.
Celebrating Gai is a manifestation of all these past, present as well as forthcoming endeavours… Bodhana develops and organizes diverse programmes in honour of Gaitonde as a celebrative and commemorative gesture… We now present three volumes of books and a documentary that aim to move the seeker beyond a threshold — to open doors into a deeper research of the unexplored zones of Gaitonde and the culture that he begets. The material in each volume is probed, analysed and then penned to provide a zealous encounter, transferring rightful contexts to readers, thereby inspiring minds to think further and imbibe the beauty.

I) Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Solitude
The first book in the series is a biography by eminent art scholar and author Meera Menezes. In Vasudeo Gaitonde — The Man and the Myth, as the title of the text suggests, the research is presented as the praxis of his life. Stories known and unknown since his childhood to the period of his developing years in J.J. from his struggles to keep up expenses, his ambitions, to leaving his family as he permanently settled in Delhi - are all well addressed and narrated. Through this biography, Meera effaces the existing myths about the artist to produce a factual document on his life and journey, keeping emotive anecdotes at bay whilst vehemently affirming the facts. This document presents a history rather than a general story.

Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Solitude was published at reputed Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, 2016. The book has been generously supported by The Raza Foundation, New Delhi

II) Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Consciousness
The second book of the series is a comparative study between the oeuvre of Gaitonde and the aesthetics of visual art - from the cosmogony to the varied philosophies that surfaced all over the world at that point in time. It is authored by international art critic and cultural theorist G. Roger Denson. He critically analyses the paintings of Gaitonde through the radar of artist’s convictions that inspired and motivated his energy to evolve into unchartered zones of the unknown. From the indigenous ideologies of Jain, Rajput and Mughal miniatures, indigenous art, Chinese and Japanese philosophies to the doctrines of Abstract Expressionism and Existentialism, the spiritual streams of Jeevan Mukta, Vedanta and Zen — all are scrutinised in order to dissect their proof of the presence in his lifelong creations.

III) Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Echoes of the Sonata
The third book in the series is an evocative and novel attempt of its kind. Roshan Shahani, Narendra Dengle, Amrit Gangar and Jesal Thacker co-author this volume, positioning Gaitonde within a watershed moment of contemporary Indian art. In tandem with Gaitonde’s bardic pulse of transience, Roshan writes a promising text, highlighting the metaphoric suggestiveness of Gaitonde’s oeuvre. Through the essay titled Cause Gaitonde, Narendra Dengle makes an effort to discover new ways to appreciate Gaitonde’s paintings. He surveys the various phases of Gaitonde’s work as he probes into the paintings by examining the artist’s philosophical and spiritual inclinations. Amrit Gangar moves through comparative and historic timelines to ultimately disclose a Gothic event in the life of Vasudeo Gaitonde; the moment he saw the film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's poem, A Tell-Tale Heart. The author conjures a window into Gaitonde’s mind, as the artist passed through a transition, whilst repeatedly watching the same movie. Jesal Thacker, explores the notions of sound and unheard sound in the context of Indian philosophy and traces its transitions into the Zen ideology of silence through the canvases of Gaitonde.

IV) Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Light
The stupendous oeuvre of Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde is curated by Jesal Thacker. It serves an educational purpose for an art aficionado. Moreover, it brings forth the distinctive sojourn of an artist who had treaded myriad trajectories, not merely delved within a sole domain. This analogy with light proves to be an anthology of his life, simultaneously projecting the various timelines of modern Indian art and at the same time simply delivering a blissful yet sublime experience from the images of his artworks. Nevertheless, the paintings and drawings, chronologically presented, in this tome prove as a visual treat for the fans of Gai. 

V) Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Reeling the Sonata
The enigmatic life of Gaitonde is presented in the form of an aesthetic documentary. Featuring an exclusive set of interviews with his family, friends like Krishen Khanna, A Ramachandran and well-wishers, as well as close confidantes like Ashok Vajpeyi, this film expands and exposes the anecdotes that would delight viewers with a glimpse into his life, narrated by his close associates. The reel also comprises of opinions and thoughts of contemporary artists, like Bose Krishnamachari amongst others. The film approaches its subject through a structure that presents miniatures as well as abstract and nonobjective art within the historic infrastructure that runs parallel to Gaitonde’s life and art.

The journey may end, but each end is a new beginning. Bodhana does not conclude or culminate this process of creating sonatas, but envisions to ceaselessly construe multiple volumes and adaptations for a society on Gaitonde, for Gaitonde!

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