(By Nalini S Malaviya)
I met Francois Gautier earlier this week, when he was in Bangalore for the preview of the art exhibition he has organized.
This exhibition of miniature paintings is based on original documents and firmans (edicts) from Aurangzeb’s reign preserved in museums in Rajasthan, mainly the Bikaner archives. The paintings depict scenes from this period in the Moghol miniature style of painting. A visual representation of facts and events based on historical records, the works offer valuable insights into a dark and turbulent period that marked the beginning of the fall of the Moghol Empire.
Francois Gautier, a French journalist and writer residing in India for the last twenty years, is the man responsible for putting together the concept and the show. He reveals, “The documents and the paintings on display are based entirely on original archives, and we’re the first ones to exhibit them.” His organization FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) has been active in creating global awareness on the plight of the Kashmiri Hindus. Gautier believes this exhibition is highly relevant today as it encourages religions to be more enlightened and tolerant.
Aurangzeb’s reign - a period ill famous for violence, cruelty, and religious intolerance has been depicted through drawings, paintings and explanatory text. Prince Dara Shukoh (Aurangzeb’s brother) translating the Upanishads, his farcical trial, demolition of temples, burial of music, and Aurangzeb writing his will are some of the paintings on display. Details of events and historical facts have also been put up along with each painting.
The Moghol miniature style of paintings is on the decline and Gautier hopes an exhibition such as this will revive interest in the art form. The exhibition will travel to Delhi, Mysore, Pune and other cities in the country.
The exhibition is on till March 25 at Gallery G, Bangalore.
(Published in Times of India, Bangalore)