Launch pad

What's new in your world

     Print Edition: Feb 8, 2009

Ruth Smoking, by Julian Opie
Ruth Smoking
Opie in Mumbai
Leading contemporary artist, Julian Opie, will be visiting Mumbai for his first ever exhibition in India.
Anamika Butalia

East London artist, Julian Opie, 50, first made it big in the ’80s in London. Since then, his painting and sculpture has travelled the world from his native UK, all through Europe to Brazil, the US, China and Japan. But this is his first time in India. It was Geetha Methra’s idea, the director of the Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai—she’d been collecting Opie for seven years, and persuading him to visit for the last three.

Often compared to Keith Haring and Jeff Koons, his work is ineffably post-modern—all about breaking rules and ruffling feathers. And his inspiration is the utterly mundane, the experience that surrounds us all—he’s made metal cheques and paintings of icons like Kate Moss. There’s a humour in his work, and a childlike simplicity. Charles Saatchi’s a fan and so is the band Blur who commissioned him to do their “Best of” album cover.

No question, Opie’s arrival in Mumbai on January 28 only adds to India’s standing as a serious global art destination. And only the serious will consider a purchase— Opie’s pieces have gone for approximately Rs 14.6 lakh. Catch the artist himself in the opening week.

Julian Opie, Jan 30-Feb 24, ’09 at the Sakshi Gallery, Tanna House, 11-A, Nathalal Parekh Marg, Colaba, Mumbai-400001. Tel: 022-6610 3424, www.sakshigallery.com

The books that shaped my life
Every issue we ask a prominent businessman about the books that made them the people they are today. This month: Captain G.R. Gopinath, Vice Chairman, Kingfisher Airlines.

The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus
The Gods condemned Sisyphus to push a rock up a hill until it rolled down the other side, and then start over—they thought futile labour was the cruellest punishment. Camus compares Sisyphus to modern man—we, too, are condemned, caught up in the machinery of work. Where is the meaning to our labour? But Camus believes that Sisyphus can be happy. There is beauty in this world, in human dignity. You must rebel against the rock and live intensely, with honour and passion.

Father Sergius, Leo Tolstoy
A monk wants so much to serve humanity that he is utterly naked in facing the truth about himself. But in doing this, he becomes famous and even arrogant—even a monk! When he is finally tempted by a woman, he chops his finger off to stop himself from slipping. Sometimes in life, you have to put a check on yourself—you bring in an external condition that will stop you from succumbing. I’ve done it myself in business.

Made in America, Sam Walton
I don’t read many business books, but I like autobiographies of people who’ve built great businesses. Sam Walton built Wal-Mart out of a single mom and pop store and the lessons I find here are also in the Gita—work hard and have integrity, give back to your community. Your job is to find joy in creating and doing. Leave the rest.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy
Tolstoy is such a powerful storyteller, he asks very fundamental questions. This is his satire about a powerful bureaucrat, who is filled with arrogance about his status. You can see Indian bureaucrats in his character, but also yourself—how sometimes we, too, fall for pretences.

Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore
My father would sometimes read me this poem: “Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple?” Tagore brings out the aspect of human beings that is one with nature. He uplifts my soul.

As told to Sanjiv Bhattacharya

Solo by Rana Dasgupta
(Harper Collins)

They said lovely things about Tokyo Cancelled, Rana Dasgupta’s debut novel. Comparisons to Rushdie, Marquez, all the greats. He was crowned the new voice of magical realism, which isn’t bad considering it was the author’s first book, and he wrote it at the ripe age of, um, 34?

So, come February 20, when his 2nd novel, Solo, is unveiled at some tickets only event in a ritzy corner of Delhi, expectations will be high. It’s another story of dislocation. Tokyo Cancelled told the story of a plane to Japan that is forced to land along the way, leaving the passengers to spend the night at an airport, sustaining themselves with stories. Solo is set in Bulgaria, a country that, like the author, has been both part of Asia and Europe in its time. His protagonist is a 100-yearold man called Ulrich.

One thing about Dasgupta, you can never accuse him of just rehashing incidents from his own life— here is a writer who imagines new worlds. Born in Canterbury, raised in Cambridge and now living in Delhi, Dasgupta will be the man to read this month.

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