Recently I was able to walk-in to an art exhibition organized by Indian High Commission at Maldives National Art Gallery located in the northeast corner of Sultan Park. The exhibition went on from 2nd – 12th of June. It came in to spotlight as I was walking to Islamic Center for prayers — I saw the big banner hanging down at the entrance of the ‘Chinese aid’ building.
portrait of Buddha being displayed at the Art Exhibition held by Indian High Commission in Maldives
After prayers I was returning back from mosque. There I met an old friend and both decided to go into the Art Gallery to find out what actually the exhibition portraits. This is my 1st visit to the new building of Maldives National Art Gallery.
Many large canvases were hung in the gallery. We were just giving the first impression of it one at a time. Some of them don’t illustrate anything except a topic. Later we noticed it as a contemporary art exhibition. Nothing has been in detail. Except three paintings, all rest were contemporary art works. The three fine art works which we found were well drawn with stunning colors often seen in the South Asian’s sub continental countries. But the alarming thing was all three depicts Indian Gods and Goddesses.
Another portrait displaying South Asian's Hindu and Buddhist idols
You might remember recently Maldives Customs seized statues brought in to the country to be used as decoration items at a spa. They seized it because it was iconic to those you found in Thailand’s temples. Likewise these portraits show unerringly the image of Buddha. But I wonder why they [authorities] allowed Indian High Commission to displaying them at a public exhibition.
The exhibition was inauguration by President Nasheed and, at the time we went there one of his close aid, and a family relative, Health Minister’s husband ‘Sikka’ was promoting the ongoing French festival in the same premises.
The brochure given to us says, all the paintings came from the “Puducherry Blue”, the artist’s camp at Puducherry, India which was held under the auspices of ICCR in 2011, with a view to bring together artists from the South Asian region. The camp gave creative artists from nine South Asian nations – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka a platform to interact and mingle each other socially through the medium of art.
“By exhibiting these works in Maldives, The High Commission of India expects further interaction among the art lovers based on the styles and sensibilities that bench marked the creativity of the artists”, noted in the preface of the brochure.
The aim is very perfect. However, they have somehow manage to symbolize their Gods in our National Art Gallery. Nobody tend to notice this. Nobody cares. This is how Indian High Commission tries to influence their smallest neighbor, displaying their idols, putting their religious festivals at Public arenas like Dharubaaruge and so on.
After all present government of Maldives has take-up trade and bilateral relations of the two nations to a high elevation, bringing new investors like GMR to Maldives while Indian Government has offered huge sum of loan and grant packagers to the President Nasheed’s Government, everyone knows kind influence Indian would be pounding on us. Authorities are silent as Indian High Commission is continuously arranging Hindu Religious and Cultural festivals mainly focusing to huge number of Indian workers living in the country.
During previous regime every thing has to be conformed in prior to the event. needs to organize such events in the Maldives they have to submit their plan, drawings, and films, Posters and such other items to Maldives Censure Board before being displayed in the public arenas.