I was in Mumbai, participating in an official meeting between a French business delegation, local authorities, the government of Maharashtra and Municipal officers.
The authorities were sharing their views on the development of greater Mumbai and the French businessmen were making presentations: ‘We have the full technology offering… water sanitation, waste treatment, mobility, smart grid, clean energy, security and safety, we have everything for you …’
I could see through the window on my left the sprawling, congested, polluted megapolis that Mumbai is, with the Dharavi slum not far away from us. As usual in such a case, I started to sketch a weird city on a page of my A5 notebook, with people next to me watching over my shoulder… Early sketches turned into a series of black and white drawings, ranging from medium to larger sizes followed by a very large drawing touched up with a bit of acrylic on a large canvas. Recently, I have made another large oil version of what I call the ‘Mad Xima City’, reflecting on my rather pessimistic vision of urban growth in India.
I have also tried to look at a district view of a city, for instance a view of Jaipur from the civil lines. Last but not least, I have found that slums – whether in Dharavi Mumbai, Rajasthan or Delhi – offer some very intimate human scenes and also colourful kaleidoscopes which look like abstract painting. I have done a few attempts at capturing such views.