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Celebrating Habitat - Retrospective Exhibition of Balkrishna Doshi's Architectural Work

Celebrating Habitat - Retrospective Exhibition of Balkrishna Doshi's Architectural Work

On 6th December, 2014, I and my wife, Naina Dalal, went to see the wonderful exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. I have seen many retrospective exhibitions of some major painters of India based on collections of NGMA, such as, Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose, Ram Kinker Baij, Amrita Sher-Gil, during the last three decades. I have also seen the specially curated shows of living legends Shri K.G. Subramanyan, Shri Satish Gujaral and centenary exhibition of Binode Bihari Mukherjee. These exhibitions were full of original masterpieces of paintings and therefore intrinsically interesting. However, in the field of architecture, actual buildings and complexes cannot be brought into the Exhibition Hall. Therefore, each architectural project has to be reconstructed in a certain scale along with the concept behind each. This reconstruction is a convincing substitute of the actual edifices. Such a venture requires tremendous planning and finally to put it in place in specified spaces requires great imagination, time, patience and unavoidable expenditure. This NGMA presentation is an outstanding example of an exhibition for which the designer's genius must be appreciated who has closely understood Shri Balkrishna Doshi's concepts and life-time work. The exhibition is so unique, so overwhelming and so instructive. Recourse has been taken to the use of scale models, drawing of plans, text panels, illusionistic large-sized photo-murals and of course also the actual building materials to show the viewers the sensitivity with which Shri Doshi handles them. Thus, one is face to face with the extraordinary architectural thinking and production of Shri Doshi, that one feels so convinced about his immense contribution to architectural developments in post-Independent India, i.e., during the last 60 years in areas of institutional, residential and community architecture. The NGMA's vast Exhibition Hall was completely transformed into Doshi's space and domain.

The NGMA and Ministry of Culture must be congratulated to have organized such a befitting presentation of the life time work of an outstanding architect, who is in his 80s. It does not always happen that the genius and the contribution of a distinguished expert is fully understood and acknowledged in his life time. Shri Doshi emerges as a thinker and a creative person, conscious of India's rich architectural heritage and the present day needs of modern India. Without being an overtly revivalist he imbibes indigenous elements yet creates spaces and detailing which are characteristically Doshi-esque. We had the privilege of a lucid guide lecturer who gave us the tour of the exhibition besides the good fortune of meeting the young exhibition curator, Khushnu.

I congratulate all those worthy persons involved in the concretization of Shri Doshi's work and bow down before him for his wide-ranging contribution to the nation as an architect. I have the further privilege of displaying art objects from the collections of L.D. Museum and N.C. Mehta Gallery, which are housed in the building designed by Shri Doshi.

Key words : Balkrishna Doshi, Architectural Work exhibition, Celebrating Habitat, retrospective exhibition of Balkrishna Doshi, NGMA presentation, Pride of L.D. Museum

Categories : Architecture, In House Blog