From Goa, the rice route to Lisbon

Goan painter Subodh Kerkar has taken to cultivating the local variety of brown rice these days. Kerkar’s latest obsession has little to do with any genuine interest in agri-farming. The installation artist who is Lisbon-bound this week has an idea germinating that will see Goan rice sprouting in Lisbons Tapada das Necessidades, the centuries-old botanical garden set for grand re-opening after its recent restoration.
Kerkar is among the 10 internationally known installation artists invited to exhibit at the June 20 inaugural of the garden. The exhibition titled 'Le Djeuner sur L'herbe' after Edouard Manets famous painting of nude women at a picnic in a garden, is being curated by Isabel Carlos, director of the Gulbenkian Museum of Modern Art.

Kerkar who was recently in Lisbon to check out the site, said he was struck by the fact that there are trees from almost all over the world growing in Tapadas, a legacy of Portugals maritime history. ‘‘When I saw an Arabian date tree, I decided my installation would attempt to interpret Vasco da Gamas epic sea journey to India using rice seeds from Goa’’, he said.

The Portuguese brought chillies, tomatoes, the cashew plant and the rain tree from Brazil to Goa. Kerkar thinks its would be poetic justice to have Goan rice growing in one of Portugals best known public spaces.

The artist plans to plant the rice in a pattern depicting da Gamas sea route to India. The others taking part are Mircea Cantor of France, Maider Lopes of Spain, Nicholas Robbio of Brazil and Portuguese artists Gabriela Albergaria, Joana Bastos, Alberto Carneiro, Dalila Goncalves, Miguel Palma and Ana Vieira.

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