Celebrating Gai


A sonata, by its very 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. The subtle movement’s wriggle and touch on the senses build a sublime structure within the mind. The planar quality of conscience then synchronizes with the tempo and flow by which a sonata furthers itself, thereby disabling any imposed comprehension and yet developing the expected oneness.

Oneness was Gaitonde’s lifelong quest. He did not choose the language he harnessed, but it sneaked its sensitive vista through him. Gaitonde continued to only paint - a sole medium - throughout his life, transcending from the phases that influenced as well as inspired him to later form his own unique sojourn.

The sonata that was in the process of being composed during his lifetime materialises itself in the series of volumes conceived by Jesal Thacker. The concept germinated during her formative years at Sir J J School of Art in the form assignment that introduced her to Gaitonde through an image in a catalogue. The experience from the image stirred her to research deeper into the artist that led to the foundation of a non-profit organisation, Bodhana Arts and Research Foundation. The years of diligence and perseverance to map and trace the life of Vasudeo Gaitonde and to comprehend as well as interpret the sonatas of paintings he created has been a rewarding journey that has proceeded towards attaining oneness with his sentience.

Celebrating Gai is a manifestation of all these past, present as well as forthcoming endeavours by Bodhana. Bodhana through its celebrative and commemorative gesture ventures itself to contrive and arrange multifarious programs at various locations in honour of Gaitonde and his creations, throughout the year.

Bodhana presents three volumes of books and a documentary that will allow the seeker to move beyond the threshold and open the doors to deeper research in the unexplored zones of Gaitonde and the culture that he begets. The material in each volume is probed, analysed and penned to provide a zealous encounter, so as to transfer the rightful contexts to readers, thereby inspiring minds to think further and imbibe the beauty.

Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Solitude - The first book in the series emerges as a biography of the modern master Gaitonde by eminent art scholar and author Meera Menezes. 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 formative years in J.J., through his struggles to keep up expenses as well as ambitions until leaving his family to permanently settle in Delhi are well addressed and narrated here. Meera, through her biography, effaces the existing myths about the artist and successfully attempts to produce a factual document on his life and journey, keeping the emotive anecdotes at bay while vehemently affirming the facts. The document presents a history rather than a general story.

Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Light - The second book in the series is an evocative and novel attempt of its kind. A sumptuous omnibus of paintings by Gaitonde reveals the exceptionally cosmopolitan framework of the artist's mind. Roshan Shahani and Narendra Dengle author this volume, positioning Gaitonde within a watershed moment of contemporary Indian art. In tandem with the bardic pulse of transience, which Gaitonde conjures, Roshan writes a promising text, highlighting the metaphoric suggestiveness of Gaitonde's oeuvre. Roshan re-imagines Gaitonde's voice of intentionality and like an archaeologist unearthing a way of being and the shape of life, she draws out the skeins of significances that illuminate this great artist's work. The text flows, pauses and swivels with poetic literary rhythms, aligning closely, with the subtle murmurs and undertones, ever present and glistening on a Gaitonde canvas. Through his essay titled Cause Gaitonde Narendra Dengle makes an effort to discover ways to appreciate Gaitonde’s paintings. It takes a survey of the various phases of his work and probes into the consciousness that arguably manifests in Gaitonde’s paintings by examining his philosophical and spiritual inclinations. In the process of his critical exploration the author examines the field of contemporary visual arts and their integral association with time and timelessness as experienced in Gaitonde’s work.

Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Sonata of Consciousness - The third and the final book of the series is a comparative study between the oeuvre of Gaitonde and the aesthetics of visual art, the mythology of creation or the cosmogony and varied philosophies that surfaced themselves in the corresponding period world-wide. It is co-authored by international art critic and cultural theorist G. Roger Denson. Roger has critically analysed the paintings of Gaitonde through the radar of Gaitonde’s own convictions that inspired and motivated his energy to evolve in the unchartered zones of the unknown. From the indigenous ideologies of Jain, Rajput and Mughal miniatures, indigenous art and Chinese or Japanese philosophies, to the doctrines of Abstract Expressionism and Existentialism, to the spiritual streams of Jeevan Mukta, Vedanta or Zen - all these are scrutinised in order to dissect the proof of the presence of the same in his lifelong creations.

Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde: Reeling a Sonata - The enigmatic life of Gaitonde is presented in the form of an aesthetic documentary. Featuring an exclusive set of interviews with 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 who would like to have a sneak in the life narrated from his close associates. The reel also comprises opinions and elucidation from contemporary artists like Bose Krishnamachari and others. The film approaches its subject through a structure that presents miniatures as well as abstract or non-objective art in the historic infrastructure running parallel to Gaitonde’s life and art.

The journey ends, but the end is always a new beginning. Bodhana Arts and Research Foundation does not conclude or culminate the process of creating sonatas, but envisions instead to keep proposing multiple tomes and adaptations to the society on Gaitonde, for Gaitonde!