An artist's ode to Old Bangalore

A peek into past

An artist's ode to Old Bangalore

Last week, a winding kilometre-long queue of young, yuppy new age Bangaloreans eagerly poured into the City’s Koramangala Indoor Stadium.

Beckoned by a heady  concoction of comic book heroes and quirky merchandise, diehard fantasy artists and graphic novelists, they were trooping in for the annual “Comic Con India.”

But lost in that euphoric crowd, almost forgotten in a quiet corner was a stall: One that celebrated the artistic brilliance of Mario Miranda, a master illustrator whose art would add an unheralded yet classic touch to the event.

Mario’s works that captured the old world charm of Goa, appeared no match for the high voltage marketing blitz of Gen X. Yet, there was no wishing away the genius of the man, his attention to graphic detail, his searing search for perfection in his lovingly crafted characters. Such high standards were bound to inspire many. But none would get as close to that quality as Paul Fernandes, Bangalore’s own keeper of quirky nostalgia.

Tucked away in a corner of Richard’s Town, a place that once defined the other worldly charm of the “Pensioner’s Paradise,” the  aPaulogy Gallery is Paul’s tribute to that forgotten heritage. As the City’s development brigade defiantly demolished old colonial structures in utter disregard of their cultural heritage, Paul drew the lines, repainted those buildings of yore on canvas, injected life, verve and a vicarious longing for an era bygone. Packed with quirky Old Bangalore collectibles, prints of Paul’s classy renderings of pre-boom MG Road and more, the aPaulogy Gallery is nostalgia visualised. But Paul did not complete those 60 works of art in a hurry. “It took me five years. Sometimes, I would do five in a month, sometimes nothing at all,” recalled the artist. Yet, that leisured pace defined his art, much like Mario Miranda’s.

Paul’s distinct style had caught the Bangalorean’s eye 25 years ago, his multi-colour poster titled “One Fine Day on MG Road” making a big splash. Whacky and animated, the characters he deposited on that piece might now seem ancient. The Ambassador car dominated that work, and that was telling enough. The success of the poster sparked a fire in him, a creative energy that eventually recreated the now demolished Victoria Hotel on Residency Road, the South Parade (MG Road’s colonial identity), the old 3-Aces pub, the Cubbon Park police station, the Bangalore Palace, Central College building, and several dozens more.

Humour mingled freely with history and architecture in his works, a gentle reminder of Mario Miranda. That fluidity was eminently visible as Paul captured Bangalore’s transition from a Garden City to a Pub City, and beyond as a Silicon Megapolis. Documenting the change turned especially endearing for Paul, as his Gallery beckons young Bangaloreans to get a feel of what they lost. Forever!

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