Panaji: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a hunt on in Goa, for the next Mario Miranda. With the entire population quarantined, the celebrated deceased cartoonist’s sons Raul and Rishaad Miranda and Gerard da Cunha, curator of the Mario Gallery have organised an online art competition to help people make the most of the confinement and tinker with their creative skills in isolation.
The theme of the contest is predictable, albeit relevant: Life in the time of coronavirus.
“The pandemic has made Goan society very serious, bordering on paranoia. We need to get out of this depressive state. And what better way than to look at the funny side of things. Mario’s 94th birthday was around the corner (May 2) and it (the contest) seemed a perfect match,” da Cunha told IANS.
“On a practical note, it will help everybody who is under lockdown to think of the funny side of life and just to do something different. I can imagine that there will be many who have never in their wildest imagination thought of drawing a cartoon and are now doing so and finding humour in what we take for granted,” he also said.
Born in Daman, 85-year-old Miranda passed away in 2011 following a glittering career as a cartoonist, whose caricatures of Goa, its people and the landscape were and are still celebrated.
So synonymous was Mario’s work with the Goa of yore, that former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat once said, that whenever he was wistful of Goa of the past, he would look up Mario’s work.
According to da Cunha, an architect by trade who is in a way the custodian and a fan of Miranda’s artworks, while the great artist was never confronted with a situation like COVID-19, it would not be too difficult to hazard a guess about the visual trope which Mario resort to, if he was around in the time of coronavirus.
“Mario was never confronted with a situation like COVID-19 and so Mario didn’t draw cartoons on this genre. However, one can easily conjecture on the subjects he would choose – style of masks, pompous and controlling politicians, scarcity of food, family life during lockdown, etc, etc,” da Cunha said.
“Mario’s art and his ability to find humour in every situation is of universal relevance, specially at the time of COVID-19,” he also said.
In his later years, da Cunha said, that Mario was saddened by the manner in which Goa had changed with time.
“Mario has covered Goa from the late 1940s in his diaries and then for numerous books and magazines right up to 2000. Goa has changed so much which saddened him. Fortunately, the hinterland still retains some of the spirit which Mario captured,” he said.
The contest ‘Who will be the next Mario Miranda’ is open to residents of Goa from the age of 10 onwards, spread across four age categories. After the last date of submission (April 30), the winners would be announced on Mario’s birthday.
“We will see if we Goans have a funny bone,” da Cunha said.