• Rahul Mahesh


Revisiting my visit to Chemould Prescott Road and my interaction with the artist/art historian Varunika Saraf on her exhibition "Caput Mortuum". As appeared on Mid Day on November 27, 2021. https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai-guide/things-to-do/article/when-past-meets-the-present-23202585


The winding steps of Chemould Prescott Road has the reticent charm of anticipation, slowly building with each step. The long and wide door pushes into a portal of immensity and awe that I have seldom walked into. The expanse of the floor shines as the pristine works of art adorn the room like jewellery upon naked flesh. My eyes float between magnificent hues that capture emotions that lay suspended in the room.

Though my rude interruption at lunch time may have not been the pleasant introduction I was hoping for, the artist was gracious enough to entertain my novice eye. My eyes kept catching the tiny details on the large print that adorned the walls of Chemould Prescott Road. The singular motifs coming to life with the words Saraf quite eloquently poured into my ears.

Image Credits: Instagram/Chemould Prescott Road and Varunika Saraf

The fruit of a beleaguered endeavour bore fruit before me as she spoke of the pangs of the voices that spoke through her art. The colours speak through every brush stroke and intricate details voice their devotion to the moment that was shown before me. Varunika quite gracefully walked through the floor of the museum taking her to explain her intentions, inspirations and even momentarily taking time to recognise how I registered with the images portrayed before me.

Image Credits: Instagram/Chemould Prescott Road and Varunika Saraf

For many an artwork have held the time in a capsule within the strokes of paintbrushes and intent. I asked her if there is an intention to in any way "weaponise art" for her art speaks quite blatantly to the people who witness it. The thought-provoking surely must have an intent of concern or call for arm. Varunika's poised remark, "I find the phrasising art' to be vulgar," struck a chord with me. When confronted by materials of beauty or passion, seldom are they intended to be 'weaponised'. Such is the intent of Varunika's Caput Mortuum. The intent is to provoke thought, to promulgate attention and to reach within. The intent to capture life as it is, in its most vulnerable forms. Unadulterated.


Image Credits: All images featured in the piece are property of Chemould Prescott Road and Varunika Saraf.

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