New Delhi: In yet another blot on artistic freedom of expression in the country, five unknown men, miffed with kitsch paintings put on show at a gallery, assaulted artist Pranava Prakash on Monday. Prakash was attacked while he was showcasing his paintings of Bollywood celebs in the nude at Espace Alternative gallery in Noida.
The miscreants were heard saying that Prakash's paintings were "against Indian culture", before they stormed in and tore the works. According to Prakash, the protestors were from a right-wing group and in the past have raised objecctions over his artwork saying that his paintings offend their beliefs.
"I was in attendance at the art exhibition in the evening and I was taken by surprise when five people entered the gallery shouting slogans. They slapped me twice, threw me to the floor and then began pulling down the paintings, damaging three of my paintings. The images that were damaged were of Bollywood star Vidya Balan, Pakistani actress Veena Malik and model Poonam Pandey," said the Noida-based painter who had earlier painted Arundhati Roy in the nude.
According to Prakash, one of the pictures ruined was that of Poonam Pandey in the nude, who was shown supporting anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, with a Gandhi cap on her head, while Malik appears to be shown with the Pakistan flag painted on her back.
'Hue' and cry
Prakash was recently threatened when he exhibited his artwork titled 'Bollywood Unlimited' at the All-India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS). However, he took it lightly. "As the AIFACS was a high security area, they were looking for another opportunity. I was attacked and remarked as anti-Indian for portraying real India through my paintings" said Prakash.
"There is a certain section of people who think they are the custodians of Indian culture, and anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy. I have a right to express my view and no one in this country can take away my freedom of expression. No one in this country should be suppressed against speaking his/her mind and this incident won't stop me from painting a subject in the nude again," added Prakash.