From Goa to the world – The journey of Vamona Navelcar’s art
World renowned artist Vamona Navelcar’s works, like him, have travelled across continents. He was recently interviewed on the Portuguese radio chat show Renascença Goa, where he shared his experience. Café explores the different mediums through whichNavelcar’s life and works have been highlighted
After living abroad, spending his time between three continents, artist of repute Vamona Ananta Sinai Navelcar is back in his village, Pomburpa. His colourful life is the subject of a book – the biography ‘Vamona Navelcar: An Artist of Three Continents’, written by Anne Claire Ketteringham, and a documentary film directed by Ronak Kamat with production sound recording and sound design by Ashley Fernandes, titled, ‘I am Nothing’. Navelcar was recently featured on the Portuguese radio chat show Renascença Goa, where the 88-year-old artist reminiscedabout his travels from Goa to Mozambique in Africa via Portugal.
Navelcar has won innumerable awards for his contribution to the world of art. He is considered an integral part of the 20th century Portuguese artists. Though an artist of his calibre would have been given different exposure outside Goa and India, his works are slowly gaining a new generation of admirers as they learn about his art. Produced by Azulejos de Goa, Oscar de Noronha interviewed Navelcar for the radio show at his residence. Oscar shares his experience: “Interviewing Navelcar, about whom I’d long heard from my dear departed dad, was like a dream come true. Though his frail body hides his strength as an artist, when we got down to brass tacks, his simple ways couching noble thoughts brought warmth to our chat in the inner courtyard of his ancestral house at Pomburpa. On that rainy morning, it was simply a cascade of musings, moods and memories. Talking about the chequered career that took him from Goa to Africa via Portugal, Navelcar freely expressed his likes and dislikes and waxed eloquent about the Mozambican people.” ‘Renascença’ is a monthly radio show in Portuguese, which goes on air on the last Sunday of every month at 2:30pm. As a teacher in Africa and Europe, many of his students express their love for their professor on the online space. Oscar says, “When I posted on my Facebook page, a few hours before the radio show, local artists like Willy Goes soon showed interest and Navelcar’s biographer, Anne Claire Ketteringham, was delighted that the Goan media was drawn in by ‘this gentle giant of the Arts who needs to be recognised for his skills as an artist and a kind and gentle human being.’ My friend, Dr Joaquim Filipe Soares Rebelo, a former judge in Portugal and lover of all things Goan, poignantly recalled his visit to a Vamona Navelcar retrospective at Clube Figueiroense way back in 2012.” “It’s a pity that Navelcar has not received the attention he deserves. Perhaps his forthrightness upsets the authorities. On the other hand, glad to find the artist in an animated chat on Renascença, his nephew, Ganesh, was thankful for the attention bestowed and others voiced their admiration for the octogenarian artist,” adds Oscar. The Renascença Goa chat show will be uploaded on Youtube today, June 30, 2018. Dr Carmo Gracias from Margao is a proud owner of over 20 Vamona Navelcar paintings. He has been a collector of art by Goan and Indian artists for the past 30-40 years and over the last ten years, he has learnt a lot about Navelcar’s works. The walls of his hospital as well as his home are punctuated with art. “I have many paintings of Vamona Navelcar in my house as they are more valuable. Navelcar is a low lying man without any airs about himself. A few years ago, I visited the Consulate General of Portugal Goa at the Portuguese Embassy in Panjim, where I came across Vamona Navelcar’s paintings. Since then, I have been an admirer of his art. I give him the canvas and he paints and gives it to me. He also painted a Last Supper painting in black and white for my daughter. He is so proficient in drawing Jesus Christ that he can draw it in front of you and give it to you. “Navelcar’s line drawing is his exclusivity; it is a beautiful continuous stroke without lifting his pen or pencil from the paper till the entire image is complete. I have not seen any other artist do it,” says Dr Carmo. In May, last year, Marius Fernandes organised the Great Goan Art Festival, celebrating Navelcar. Marius, who has known Vamona since 2008, recalls that Navelcar is not restricted only to Goa or India and his artistic wonders have been celebrated all over the world. “After the festival, we got a reaction from his fans all over the world, especially the student community that he taught in Mozambique. There is a Facebook page, Vamona Ananta Sinai Navelcar, which shares news about this professor. His art gained prominence right from the 1960s to the ‘90s. He returned to Goa in the late 1990s and has been living in Goa since then,” says Marius. The documentary, ‘I Am Nothing’, was in its infancy stage during the Great Goan Art Festival and a shorter version of the film was screened. The youngsters, Ronak Kamat and Ashley Fernandes, were in awe of Navelcar’s swiftness while creating art. The film is an exploration of Vamona Navelcar as an artist and as a person. It features contemporary artist Suhas Shilker, the writer of his biography Anne Ketteringham, Professor Nandkumar Kamat along with other prominent personalities and extended, insightful conversations with the man himself. “I am working with Steve White to celebrate Navelcarin the UK. Next year, we will be having an exhibition in the UK, sometime in April or May, to mark the 50th anniversary of Vamona Navelcar’s first solo exhibition in London,” informs Marius.
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