M. Palekar, who was invited to speak at the inauguration of an exhibition of the works of the artist Prabhakar Barwe, chose to also speak about the decision of the Ministry of Culture to scrap advisory committees at the National Gallery's centres in Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Veteran actor Amol Palekar, whose address at an event in Mumbai was unceremoniously censored after he tried to criticise a government decision, told NDTV that he would not have gone to the event had he known that he would not be allowed to speak about it. The statement says the committees have not been dissolved, that their terms ended late past year, and that they are being reconstituted. "The committees are in the process of being reconstituted".
Palekar was speaking at the opening of an exhibition "Inside The Empty Box" in the memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe. "Not just the new artists, but the recent works of the renowned artists, too, would not get proper place at NGMA due to this decision", he said.
"As of November 13, 2018, the artistes' advisory committees at both regional centres Mumbai and Bangalore - have been abolished, is what I have learnt", he said.
This, the ministry has claimed is not true. "Their terms have ended recently".
In his speech, Palekar was also attempting to talk about another decision where all future exhibitions of artworks not from NGMA's own collection will be given only a sixth of the area in the gallery in Mumbai, and that in line with this new policy the retrospectives of artists Mehli Gobai and Sudhir Patwardhan, scheduled for March-April and December this year, will be cancelled. NGMA had earlier chose to make only a part of its otherwise massive gallery space for artists to display their work.
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In a statement Monday, the culture ministry said it will take artists' suggestions into consideration regarding changes in the use of space at NGMA galleries. A baffled Palekar responded with, "Are you trying to stop me from speaking and applying censorship on my speech?"
Palekar mentioned how writer Nayantara Sahgal was recently invited to speak at a Marathi literary event only to have her invitation withdrawn because what she was going to say would have been "slightly critical of the situation around us".
The Barwe exhibition, Palekar had said, "will be the last show that is decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline".
"Are we creating the same situation here?" he counter questioned on being stopped. "If I can not speak about these issues at the NGMA during a retrospective where else should I voice it?"
"If there was any impropriety at the event, it was (the act of) interrupting my speech after inviting me as a guest", he added, answering some NGMA officials' reported allegation that some of his comments on Friday had been improper.
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