The Chandra Mohan paintings
The Chandra Mohan paintings' episode at MS University in Baroda, which began on 9 May, has not been viewed objectively. The reaction of the local youngmen to the antics of the Fine Arts Faculty was exciting due to their outraged feelings. The community of artists reacted as if to protect their freedom of expression. The others, mostly self styled secularists, indulged themselves into Gujarat phobia.
Many a discussion has been witnessed on the TV and reports have been read in the print media. Few participants, however, have first clearly noted the facts.
The paintings have been reproduced by a few. That would be the starting point of any discussion in the merits and demerits of the paintings. Reportedly, Chandra Mohan had painted several pictures, four of which are reproduced, as perfectly as possible, on this page. The first one on the left is Goddess Durga giving birth to a child. According to local reports, the artist claims this to be the relationship of a mother and child.
The next painting is a picture of Lord Vishnu on the background of a Shivling. Chander Mohan's reported clarification was that the ling was that part of the human body which embodies the greatest sexual power. The third is nothing but an exaggeration of the human penis. The fourth is of a Christian Cross attempting to depict crucified Jesus. From His body urine is dropping which falls into a latrine below.
- Is there no difference between freedom of expression and perversion?
- Does perverse expression include the artist's right to hurt religions feelings?
- What is the difference between physical violence which hits the body and a painter's aggression which hurts the soul?
- If such aggression is ever allowed, would it extend also to the luminaries of Islam. Why should it be confined to only Christianity and Hinduism? Is it because Muslims hit back and the Christians and Hindus do not?
If that be so, are pervert artists also cowards? Evidently they are.
Prof. J.S. Bandookwala of MS University claims to be deeply hurt and shocked at the protest of the local youngmen. He has called Mr Jain, a complainant to the police, as a men of narrow outlook. We know that Bandookwala is a broad minded scholar. May we seek his blessings whereby we can paint a portrait of Prophet Muhammad?
Former MSU Vice Chancellor, Anil Kane, has used the Ajanta caves and the Khajuraho temples as examples which should permit artists to enjoy the freedom of expression.
Has Kane no idea that there is a difference between a human and the divine, between a man and the popular perception of God?