Two paintings at an exhibition titled ‘Modi@20’, depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘Vishwakarma’ and ‘Dashbhuja’ (the one with ten hands), at Maharaja Sayajirao University’s Faculty of Fine Arts have been taken off. The paintings were removed after the exhibition opened Sunday following concerns by the varsity management that the depiction could “hurt sentiments”. While organisers agreed, the artists said they are “surprised” by the move, which has left them “hurt”.
The Faculty of Fine Arts has leased out space for the two-day exhibition based on 20 years of Modi’s life in a public office. Curated by Bhubaneshwar-based Suvadra Art Gallery and coordinated by Vadodara-based painter Jaydev Biswal, the exhibition has around 40 paintings and some sculptures up for display.
Ambika Patel, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, told The Indian Express, “… When we saw these two paintings, we asked the artists to explain. They told us that the painting of Parliament had PM Modi as Vishwakarma while the other painting was not directly connected to religion… We respectfully conveyed to them that they should refrain from… putting up pictures that could hurt the sentiments of a sect or community,” Patel said. The FFA has faced art-related controversies at least twice in the past.
While Vishvakarma is the Hindu god of craftsmanship, the ‘Dashbhuja’ reference is associated with gods with the divine ability to juggle multiple tasks.