Signed 'Sabavala' (lower right)
The Jehangir Sabavala Foundation, Mumbai.
Ranjit Hoskote, Pilgrim, Exile, Sorcerer: The Painterly Evolution of Jehangir Sabavala, Bombay, p. 63
ARTIANA CATALOGUE TEXT BY RANJIT HOSKOTE
Jehangir Sabavala’s painting, ‘Objects Composed’, epitomises a phase of his oeuvre during the mid-1950s when the artist was adapting the Cubism of his Parisian training at the Academie Andre Lhote to the physical environment and conceptual possibilities of a newly independent India. Sabavala’s early experiments with the development of a localised Cubist idiom – he would eventually leave Cubism behind – included a robust engagement with the artefacts, natural elements, vegetation and colour of India, and most importantly, its tropical light. Unlike the diffuse northern light of Europe, which rendered the outlines and volumes of objects hazy, the harsh glare of the tropics gave every object a hard and definite edge and a certain flatness.
Like Braque and Picasso, the masters of the Cubist guild, Sabavala took up the still life as a point of departure. All the masses and volumes that comprise ‘Objects Composed’ are translated into a system of flattened planes, as though they were pieces in a jigsaw, shards in a kaleidoscope, or the tesserae of a mosaic. Through this conceptual manoeuvre, the artist orchestrates a re-arrangement of visually received reality into a set of conceptual elements. He also achieves a sweeping move beyond the still life, to embrace the interior and a suggestion of landscape within the compass of this work. Note the pot, the vase, the tablecloth, as well as the table and a hint of window, as well as the flowers in the vase, which explode like suns. What seems at first like a simple gesture, that of putting a set of objects together into a temporary ensemble, is revealed as a magical gesture: this, after all, is how we put the disparate fragments of our experience together, to produce a world.