Mumbai architect digs city’s Art Deco treasures

Mumbai’s Art Deco structures may not be as grand as that of jazz age bemonths of New York’s but the city of dreams has enough glamour, glitter and art for everyone. Kunal Shah, a Mumbai-based architect curates an Art Deco show in Design Gallery, Khotachi Wadi, Mumbai ( till Nov 13) through images, objects, jewellery and textile.

It is not an overstatement to say that Mumbai has the world’s second-largest collection of the artistic buildings, second only to Miami. The city had its art deco  moment in the early 1930s, emulating a new style of architecture Europe and USA fused with Indian elements.

With more than 800 structures in Mumbai including residential and business, theatres, hotels and cinemas gracing the line of Marine Drive paying homage to a movement, there some sser-known spaces are beautiful buildings with chevron ribbons running through their storeys, with grills and balconies maybe not as ornate as the old cinemas but they narrate the stories of a different era.

Emphasising the need to preserve egalitarian and timeless grace of the these buildings, Shah presents a mosaic of the Art Deco styles seen through the work of an ensemble of artists like Hashim Badani’s jewellery with Art Deco elements by Hanut Singh and textiles by Hema Shroff of Amba Weaves, a 20- year -old social enterprise that works with a collective of Maheshwari weavers.

He has on display the object d’art whether a kettle or bookends on pieces of deco furniture, against a backdrop of embroidered and painted wallpaper with deco elements from de Gournay.

Badani’s images of residential buildings, a Jain temple and a school on Mohammed Ali Road, document the deco style flanking the JJ flyover. Marine Deco as seen in Miami and Mumbai. Hanut Singh, whose jewellery is an ode to cosmopolitanism,/ All  the objects like jewellery, textile and artefacts reflect a hint of Art Deco which can be perceived with heightened sense of clarity and mood.

As per the curatorial note, a handwoven shawl with motifs of Metro Cinema, a stole inspired by wrought iron railings and a wall textile inspired by the chevron detailing on the Chrysler and Empire State Building in NYC suggest a strong influence of western architecture.

Photo: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy/Indiapicture



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