If you want to travel in a time machine and visit 300 or 400 years into the past, Malviya Nagar in the Pink city of Jaipur is the place where it is located.
At this place that visual craftsmen and painter Vinay Sharma calls his home, there is a treasure trove of antiques that will transport you back into the times when India was ruled by the Rajahs and Maharajahs, who were bringing the fruits of industrialization from foreign shores into India. Yes, one is talking about wall clocks, gramophones, valve radios, telephones, watches, and antique Indian engineering marvels, copper cutlery, Belgian cut glass chandeliers – all packed into 5000 square meters space in no particular order.
Yes, this is the collection of Vinay Sharma, 55, a Fine Arts graduate from Rajasthan University.
“I was always interested in antiques and history and have been collecting items ever since I can remember. I have the oldest manuscripts, dating back to 400 years in my collection. These manuscripts relate to astrology and religious matters that I got from family sources,” Vinay told the Tricity Scoop on phone from his house-cum-studio.
There is history all around his house, jam packed with priceless collections ranging from ancient utensils to machines to workmen tools to a telephone booth, pens and typewriters, and every convenable object that has been a part of the life of people from the generations gone by.
His collections of radios – at the last count over 350, half of them in working condition, is simply awesome. Then there are gigantic gramophones, long-playing records, film projectors, films, posters, that jostle for space and vie for attention with dolls, mannequins, and the like.
An artist by training and inclination, Vinay is multi-talented and proficient at painting, music, arts and celebrates Rajasthan and its many shades of culture and life. He is a soothsayer of some repute and his younger brother is a well-known astrologer of the city.
As an artist, he says, he is fascinated by the rhythms of sounds of history and is fascinated by ancient sounds—which is one reason why he is so passionate about all things ancient and spends a lot of time, effort, energy and money in collecting ancient items.
When he came to know of the oldest working radio in Agra, he did not rest till he brought it back to his studio.
He sees art in each and every object around him but laments that the fast-paced modern life is robbing everything from us and the artist in him is sad that art is losing its charm as technology and modernization are taking a toll.
He tries hard not to be affected by it and uses every bit of art and objects around him, for inspiration too, to create an assortment of images, mediums, and material, gathered from his collections. Earlier Vinay used to focus on printmaking, but now concentrates more on painting and trying to blend and connect the past with the present.
Does he intend to get his works of art and antiques and fantastic collections of various items open to the public?
Well, not really. “I am an artist and wish to remain so. My studio is welcome for any artist to come and use it and learn from it. And teach me as well, as one is a student all through life. There are always students who come and work at the studio,” he said. Vinay also teaches at a local college.
In fact, there is a PhD. Scholar who did a thesis on the life and times of Vinay Sharma and was awarded a doctorate.
An alumnus of the Rajasthan College of Arts in Jaipur, Vinay Sharma attended Liverpool University in the UK as an exchange student. He returned to India to receive a post-graduate Diploma in Graphics from MS University, Baroda. A printmaker, graphic artist, and painter, Vinay Sharma’s art has an aesthetic influence that reflects the colours and traditions of Rajasthan.
“I have always strived to present Indian culture and traditions through poetic verse. The folk arts of Rajasthan, its tribal lifestyle, religious beliefs, fairs and festivals, and the traditional heritage of ancient forts and palaces have always inspired me,” he concluded.