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Guernica is gone. We can’t keep staring at the blank panel

Picasso has left the UN building in New York. Ruby Jagrut feels the wall should not be empty and advises the UN to fill it with something young, contemporary and meaningful. She also lists some of her choices

For the post World War scenario, it was great to have Picasso\’s Guernica on the panels of United Nations building in New York. Since it has been taken back by its original acquisitionist, it throws many delightful opportunities about using that space for the good cause of the arts. Since we have moved quite a distance from any full-blown global military warfare (though one never knows), we can think of multiple ways of using that space to address our modern, complicated, dynamic, multi-pronged realities.

Being part of Abir, my natural choice would be to offer the space to the young, the new, the emerging artists of the world who are bringing forth the many facets of new realities across the globe.

The iconic, 25-foot-long canvas tapestry replica of Pablo Picasso’s famed painting, ‘Guernica’, had hung outside the United Nations Security Council chamber since 1985, which was on loan from the Rockefeller family, has been removed now.


Not only it would make the chosen young artists very proud to occupy the space left by Picasso sahab, it would in some way make the UN recover some of its faded sheen and lost relevance. And by rotation it can engage with so many issues that confront humanity today, right from black lives, gender violence, migrant issues, discrimination against minorities, global warming, deforming democracies, genocide, religious violence, poverty, and so on. The wars have changed their style, the challenges continue to daunt us.

This blank space can be a panel the world can still look at and find some glimmer of hope, optimism, humanity, peace, harmony and relief. Good art can bring us to such experiences. It will open an amazing opportunity to talents living and working in distant corners.

I derive loads of hope and optimism from what young smart minds bring to us. Here is a sampler of the kind of art which can be considered for showcasing, which have caught my eye in the recent past:

Fauzia Minallah from Pakistan has created ‘Amai – The bird of Light’, which actually is a cartoon character. You can check her works here.


The Teeter Totter wall has been recognised for placing see-saw planks across the US-Mexico border, which saw considerable conflict with former President Donald Trump’s decision to build 0a wall. The see-saw attracted children from both sides to come play, and cross boundaries and  differences via the vehicle of art. You can see the installations here.


Kang Ik-Joong’s installation ‘Gwanghwamun Arirang’ was unveiled to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War at Gwanghwamun Square. He hopes for a unification of the two Koreas through his work ‘Floating Dreams’.


‘Sacrifice for Humanity’ by Dhiren Gandhi is another such work which depicts a fragile skeleton of the old man sitting in a lotus position, but with a compassionate but resolute look on his face. See more here.


And then the beautifully painted 25 donkeys making their way to London from Cairo in the Caravan exhibition called ‘In Peace and with Compassion: The Way Forward’ which was an effort to bridge the gap between two faiths all the way from Egypt, with a message of peace and compassion. Also see here.


No way this is a final list. May be the housekeepers of the UN should get inspiration from The Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar square project in London, which keep calling for entries for placing the installation on the busiest Tony square of the city and juxtapose present against the past and use imagination as a punctuation mark between objects of mostly violent memories. Here entries are invited, juries are set, shortlists are made, people vote and the piece is celebrated for a duration at the coveted place. You can look at some amazing works here.

There can also be multimedia, digital, other experimental projects there. That would a good response to fill the blank space left by Guernica by many exciting creative ideas, connecting humanity at large.

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