Airports are ambassadors of culture and heritage, the gateways to a city providing the first and last impression of a country. Airports around the world are alive with the works of their artists. The numerous artworks at Chicago’s O’Hare include an overhead neon light sculpture and a mural highlighting the city’s blues heritage. Seattle’s airport has works by regional artists. The Gallery at London’s Heathrow T5 has an exquisite array of art in multi media, while Amsterdam’s Schipol boasts of modern sculptures as well as Dutch painting masterworks from Rijksmuseum. Helsinki Airport has a gallery with modern Finnish art, and Hamad International Airport in Doha features public art to further its goals of being a cultural and welcoming stop for travellers.
Happily, Delhi airport keeps with this international trend. Delhi’s Terminal 3 is a veritable art gallery, themed on progressive India. It is planned meticulously, keeping in mind India’s rich heritage. Taking inspiration from mythology, ancient iconography and contemporary life, India’s top artists have made it a veritable treasure trove of disparate aspects of Indian culture. A quick tour of the key elements highlight the best in the country.
Indira Gandhi by M.F.Hussain
Widely regarded as the ‘Picasso of India’, M.F Hussain has influenced an entire generation of artists in the country. Indira Gandhi, an impressive work of his on the only woman prime minister of India can be seen at Departures.
The Indian Odyssey by Paresh Maity
Measuring 7 x 800ft, the oil on canvas The Indian Odyssey, comprises 53 panels and is spread across the walls in the baggage claim section of Arrivals. It takes inspiration from the various states of India and is an odyssey of the diversity, colour, art, music, dance and literature, amongst other facets of the country.
Hiranyagarbha by Seema Kohli
Rich in Buddhist iconography and symbolism, depicting heaven and earth in perfect harmony, the 10ft x 100ft mural on the International side, portrays a fine balance between nature and religion. The Hiranyagarbha, inspired by a mantra from the Yajur Veda, depicts an act of obeisance to that eternal womb, Surya or sun, which is constantly procreating and rejuvenating with its inexhaustible energy and through which the universe expands endlessly. The use of gold in the chakra symbolises purity and truth. Together these murals represent creation, the tree of life, knowledge and the deep interconnectedness of the world.
Surya by Satish Gupta
At Departures, you get to see Surya, inspired from the 11th century Chola bronzes of South India. The sculpture carries forward an ancient tradition in a contemporary iteration. Taken as a whole, Surya represents a complete solar calendar using motifs like lotus and fire.
Surya Namaskar by Nikhil Bhandari
At Domestic Departures, representations of the Surya Namaskar or the sun salutation, are a common sequence of yoga asanas. A full round of surya namaskara is considered to be two sets of the twelve asanas.
The saluting pachyderm, gaily festooned with brightly painted decorations and parasols, has welcomed guests for centuries and so it does again at the Departures hall.
Mudras by Ayush Kasliwal
You can’t miss these sculptures of the hands protruding from the wall as you walk down to Baggage claim. Indian mudras or hand gestures performed along with mantras and syllables form an intrinsic part of Indian classical dance, yoga and visual arts and are believed to channelise natural forces and aid spiritual and mental well-being by enhancing the flow of energy through the body.
Some of the meanings of the nine hand postures include: taking an oath; to bless somebody; to search; to contemplate; to scold; braid hair; play a temple drum, etc.;