The Mario Miranda galleries must be Goa’s best kept secret, but the iconic Goa born cartoonist was India’s much loved and much celebrated illustrator and cartoonist. He tickled our funny bone right through the charming sixties, the challenging seventies and the change-over eighties. Mario made everybody laugh at those times --- the crowded buses (no change there), the potholed roads ( no change there either!), the gratuitous politician, the buxom secretary. By the time Mario passed away in 2011 in his stately mansion in rustic Loutolim in South Goa, he had left behind a huge body of work ---- in cartoons, illustrations, paintings, diaries. There was little he himself had saved of his work during his most famous stint at The Illustrated Weekly of India, at Current, at Midday --- or the many thousands of pocket cartoons he created for the Filmfare and other publications of The Times of India group. By the sixties, Mario was well known and his work caricaturing jazz artists that visited Mumbai’s Jazz Yatra became collector’s items. His deeply insightful renderings of cityscapes and people from around the world on his many artistic trips abroad are equally prized.
All of it may have been lost but for the zeal and acumen of Goa’s well known architect Gerard da Cunha. Over several years da Cunha and his team tracked down as many originals of Mario’s work, unearthed dusty Illustrated Weekly’s from private collections and put all of it together in a exhibition that ran for weeks in Goa and Mumbai. The best of Mario’s work went into several books, including the highly interesting diaries that were the distinguished artists’ early work as a young man just out of college. A lot of the originals are now housed in the Mario Gallery and Museum in Torda, Porvorim --- in a serene, leafy part of the state, that could not have been a more apt tribute to the artist who loved his native Goa. To get to the main gallery, hop off at the Porvorim O’Coqueiro junction, take the road going past the Xavier Centre of Historic Research and look out for the Museum of Old Goan Houses. Just opposite is the main Gallery, that forms part of da Cunha’s own office.
Here you can immerse yourself into the world of Mario, peer at his lovingly created caricatures, admire his compassionate and humorous take on the world and his fellow human beings — all rendered with the deepest understanding and a gentle non malicious humour.
That done, you can hop across the street to explore da Cunha’s houses of Goa museum, with its interesting architecture and even more interesting exhibits. If you are not able to make it to Porvorim, there are Mario galleries in touristy Calangute and Panjim as well. These mainly sell the merchandise — all of Mario’s work on fridge magnets, scarves, mugs, in frames, bags, T shirts, totes, cushion covers, coaster sets etc. There are limited edition prints on sale, and plenty to take back as souvenirs. But in each of the galleries there is always a corner or two, where browsers and Mario Miranda fans can sit undisturbed for hours, simply browsing through the books of his art and admiring the world he created for us.
For gallery timings,
Mario Miranda galleries; Mario Gallery, Porvorim, Mario Gallery, Panjim, Mario Gallery, Calangute
Written byPamela D'Mello
A freelance journalist based in Goa. She was earlier special correspondent for the Asian Age & dispatched from the region, which she has covered for over two decades, have been widely published. Her special interests include political economy, environment and culture.