Stuffing animals was the first real job that Dilip Ranade did as an artist. When he joined the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum), Mumbai, as an artist in 1971, his main responsibilities were taxidermy (mounting or reproducing animals for display) and dioramas (a three-dimensional model, enclosed in a glass showcase). Today, he is the senior curator of European and Indian Modern paintings.
Ranade’s work with animals has instilled in him a quirky sense of humour and an appreciation for life beyond its material boundaries. His personal works reflect this absurdity. His work with animals is a prominent part of his art, with large fishes captured in startling detail, colours jumbled to instil a dream-like quality, and people caught looking lost.
The forlorn, the surreal and the darkness seen in Ranade’s paintings are all influenced by his heroes Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka. These influences have led Ranade to a more figurative abstract form of painting, with Kafka even starring in his works. “Life is logical chaos that cannot be explained,” says this existentialist.
Ranade’s philosophy in life and his work with animals influence his choices. He is a man who would not choose run-of-the-mill museums to represent his favourite five.
American Museum of Natural History, New York: Their speciality is the wide range of animal specimens. I also love their beautiful displays, which cover almost every technique of display possible. Also, they have a huge wildlife collection.
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago: The best thing about this museum is that many principles of science are explained through simple displays. And this is the only place which showcases everything from current topics of interest to recent scientific discoveries and research.
The Louvre, Paris: They have a wide range of paintings, from 12th-19th century. It provides a fascinating study of the development of Western art. They have many great masters but the nicer fact is that they have the lesser known but brilliant artists from the past as well—the artists who never made it to the history books.
War Memorial of Korea, Seoul: This museum is just spectacular. It’s so vast it looks like a battlefield. There are many aircraft displayed all over the grounds. The history of Korea deals with all aspects of war and battles, and this museum has managed to capture all of it.
Museum of Modern Art, New York: They have a very good collection of contemporary art as well as the great masters. They have been able to bring art from all over the world together in this one space.
Shifting the logic: Drawings (1977–2007) by Dilip Ranade will be on at the Gallery Threshold, New Delhi, from 24 November to 4 December.