This Art Deco Calcutta mansion is home to modern Indian masters


Saini is a man who uses colors conscientiously, a fact that goes against the family’s love for them, as evident from the way the house is flooded with rainbow over its furniture, upholstery and, of course, its works of art. The architect loved to play with their placement on the floor, grouping evocative works by NS Bendre in front of a meta-landscape by Akbar Padamsee and some of his charcoal works, to complement two rugs in rich reds and blues in the one of the lounges. The other living room displays three Ganesh on a canvas by MF Husain that spans the width of an entire wall, highlighted by stone figurines from the Gupta and Pala periods. The floor is covered with a bright orange carpet, and this riot of color is offset by a dark group of Rameshwar Brootas in sullen tones facing the blazing Husain.

The second living room, like the first, is dressed in an orange carpet made to measure by Jaipur Rugs. Each of the large living room rugs lasted six months. The beige sofas are by Holly Hunt and the lights are by Apparatus Studio. The painting on the left is by Rameshwar Broota, while the Ganeshas are by MF Husain.

Passing in front of the staircase, a meditative fan of frames by Ganesh Pyne welcomes you, beyond which is a passage with two poignant works by Atul Dodiya facing the lady in red. The catwalk leads to an informal dining room, one of the walls of which houses an enviable collection of FN Souzas and an Atul Dodiya. However, the real piece de resistance is the opposite wall with its powerful display of many small sculptures molded from stainless steel blades depicting items of personal use for women – from blouses and shoes to a sewing machine – by Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi, scattered around a horizontal room in Souza. “I keep a totally open mind when installing artwork, and it’s an extremely critical aspect of how some of these houses shape us,” says Saini. In this case, it had everything to do with three-dimensionality.

A group of paintings by Arpita Singh adorn one wall of this dining room which opens onto a veranda to the right, which houses a collection of miniature Indian paintings. The table top is plated in cast bronze; the lights above are from Apparatus Studio. Beyond the veranda is an outdoor swimming pool.

As you step out into the hallway, you come across walls lined with an installation of around 300 cast aluminum sculptures by Riyas Komu. On a nearby wall, a group of Indian miniatures overlook a second dining room which houses a striking collection of paintings by Arpita Singh.

This house, unmistakably, is more than just a gallery for modern Indian masters, because if you take a closer look you will notice how its walls are equal parts brick and art.


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