It is believed that the celebrated 19th century artist, Henri Matisse had expressed horror at the prospect of meeting in real life the women in his paintings. The Matisse women are renowned for their quirky looks, outlandish hair dos, distorted facial features bordering on the grotesque, dressed in over-sized clothing that seemed to have a life of their own. If you happened to walk into the 4th floor gallery of the Birla Academy of Art & Culture on Southern Avenue last month you would have come face-to-face with one such woman staring at you sullenly in ‘Expression I - A Tribute to Matisse’ a bust by ceramist Mausumi Roy. It is Matisse’s versatility that brought together 19 ceramist and glass artists from across India on the masters’ 150th birth year. A total of 69 exquisite works in terracotta, stoneware, porcelain and glass were displayed by ‘Afsa Fired Art’ who believes in showcasing ‘craft-art created out of fire’.

Walking through the exhibition was a déjà vu with the master artist; as vignettes of his work, evident in most pieces leaped at you. Matisse fish, jug, cup, and most significantly his paper cut-outs in solid colors were the leitmotif across the display. Jyotsna Bhatt had adapted Matisse scissor cut-outs in two ceramic plaques of foliage including a contented cat. Senior ceramist Aditit Saraogi kept her dialogue with the master closer to home in a flat toned cityscape of the city she lives in, Kolkata. While, blow-glass artist Shrila Mookherjee had adapted Matisse’s sheet cut-outs in a collage of recycled glass bits creating a kaleidoscopic effect. Arrangements of fishes in stoneware by artist Sushma Anand were particularly pleasing to the eye.

Afsa promises us more such exhibitions inspired by the Masters in the future. For those who missed this one, it was your loss.