Mumbai Diaries, Part 3: An Artist Profile of M.A. Jafar

by Erin Campbell

Kala Ghoda  is the centre for art in Mumbai. At the centre of Kala Ghoda is Jehangir Art Gallery, where artist M.A. Jafar sells his paintings on the sidewalk outside of this monumental building. He creates his paintings alongside palm-readers, rice-writers and a host of sketch artists who promise to draw your portrait in five minutes or less.

Photograph by Sharell Cook

Jafar is local artist who sells his paintings for 1500-2000 INR (around $30-40 CAN) and has made a name for himself in India. The paintings he sells are generally done with a palette knife, and show Indian lovers defined with sweeping brushstrokes. His abstract realism style has attracted the notice of collectors and curators, and his work has been displayed in galleries in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Germany. Jafar’s works have also been collected by Prime Minister Bhutan, several Bollywood stars and, of course, yours truly. I even convinced him to paint a commissioned piece for me that hearkened to his formal training in mimesis: a painting of the symbol of Mumbai—a rickshaw!

Lately, Jafar has been working on experiments around the realism of contemporary creativity, and is working closely with abstract expressionist artists in Mumbai. He hopes to turn his positive attitude towards life into visual form through his painting with colour and texture, and to work with new subject matter rather than his current theme of lovers.

Jehangir Gallery has taken notice of the pavement gallery that lives on their doorstep. The Gallery will be featuring Jafar in an upcoming show from September 19 to 25, 2012.

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