Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dom gets a gallery, his painting a home

Note: The article was published in the Times of India and the picture in Raj Bhavan Goa website. They are published here courtesy of both

Alexandre Moniz Barbosa,TNN | Mar 7, 2014, 03.35 AM IST

Hon'ble Governor Mr. Bharat Vir Wanchoo at the Opening of the Dom Martin Art Gallery and the Exhibition of Paintings on March 08, 2014.

PANAJI: Another Goan artist will receive his due recognition in his homeland this weekend. The art panels that adorned the casket holding the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier at the 1974 exposition are back in Goa, and on Saturday they will be on exhibition at the new Dom Martin Art Gallery, named after the artist himself, at the Goa Chitra Museum, Benaulim.

Artist Dom Martin, a brilliant artist who has always avoided publicity, sees this as a blessing. "Artists have the historical misfortune of being overlooked in their homeland, and the homeland awakens only after their artist is finally illuminated through the auspicious of a foreign sky, and the art buying then takes on a ravenous spin. In my instance, I feel blessed and gratified that my homeland has and continues to acknowledge my art even though I haven't sold a single painting since 1978," Martin told TOI in an email interview from California, USA, where he is based.

The gallery was conceived by Goa Chitra curator Victor Hugo Gomes as a gesture of gratitude to Martin when the artist donated to the museum 71 of his works, which had been locked up for years in his Porvorim flat and some of whose frames had been attacked by white ants. "When he bequeathed me these works I got a shock and I didn't know how to thank him. I was building an art gallery at that time and so I decided to name it after Dom," Gomes said.

In the coming months, the gallery will host art classes in Dom's name. While the 1974 exposition panels will be on view this Saturday, the other works of art donated by Dom to Goa Chitra will be exhibited later this year in three phases.

The eight 1974 exposition panels were not part of the bequest and were with Martin in California, until he dispatched these to Goa too. "The panels were priceless to me from a sentimental standpoint, being that they were symbolically embodied to the saint's sacred body during the 1974 exposition. From that perspective it was difficult (parting with them). However, they will be presently showcased in a much more prestigious place at Goa Chitra. They would otherwise be stashed in my desk drawer," Martin said.

Recalling how he worked on the panels 40 years back, Martin said that three days before the exposition he received a postcard from the then Rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesus asking him to come to the basilica. There he was asked to "come forth with something more powerful to showcase" the 1974 exposition.

"Overwhelmed with the prospect of producing something of this importance at such short notice, I left the basilica but not before striking a deal with the Saint: 'Provide me with the inspiration and I'll come through'," Martin said. What emerged were the panels depicting the life of the Saint.

Martin's art is not new to Goa. Since 1972, some of his works have been on permanent display at the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the art gallery in the same church. "Having my works now on display at the Dom Martin Art Galley at Goa Chakra, gives it a broader scope and a new impetus," Martin said.

Martin is known more in Goa for his philanthropy. The Vincent Xavier Verodiano Award he instituted in memory of his father has been recognizing the achievements of Goans since the year 1991. "The award originated upon my father's demise from a modest sum of money he bequeathed me. The corpus fund has since been supplemented from my personal contributions," Martin said.

Explaining the objective of the award Martin said, "The criteria of most awards is to scramble around, striving to crown the already renowned with further glory. The Verodiano Award differs in that its objective is not to further affirm those individuals (or societies, institutions or organizations), who have already found recognition in the field of art, music, literature, science, medicine, or humanities, but to recognize the potential of those who have not, and these who, for want of recognition might not otherwise be able to develop their talents and abilities for the benefit of posterity, or for the wellbeing of mankind," Martin said.

The inaugural exhibition at the Dom Martin Art Gallery, to be inaugurated by governor Bharat Vir Wanchoo, will be of paintings created last month during the International Art Residency, 2014, held at Goa Chitra.

About Dom Martin

Dom Martin is a renowned artist whose paintings adorn the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, a poet who has penned gut-wrenching poetry, and a visionary who has created prophetic images. His books include Co-Existence: Humanity's Wailing Wall (2006), Genocide: The New Order of Imperialism (2008) and his latest, a volume of poetry, NAKBLINKA: The Cleansing of Co-Existence. It deals with the brutal attack on Gaza by Israel and is a step beyond other books on the subject.
Some opinions on him:
Mairead McGuire, Nobel Peace Laureate,1976: The poetry of Dom Martin cries out for an end to the infliction of cruelty and death upon the oppressed peoples of the world…… his metaphors call us to a deeper awareness, as Beings, of the tragedy and suffering that is the result of our unwillingness to coexist peacefully with one another. His truth-telling and honesty herald new hope of peaceful coexistence for all inhabitants of our undivided planet.
Dr. Luis Gaspar da Silva, Poet, Statesman: His seriousness is undoubtedly, one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- ethos of his art. The man lives and reacts through what is true, or to whatever appears to him to be true, and what he executes is his truth. Hence, the intense reality of an expression of art which it appears to me is not very common ….Dom Martin has a special technique of expressing whatever lies deepest in the human soul, and what is more important, of the terrible and eternal problem of our presence as human beings in this vale of tears.
Dr. James J. Zogby, President, Arab American Institute: I am struck by (his) words and illustrations. I appreciate (his) focus on the human element, beyond the game of finger-pointing and blame that so often takes precedent.