Friday 10 April 2015

The Legacy of Mario De Miranda

The last time I was in Goa (in 2013) I struggled to find ( any merchandise related to my favorite artist, Mario De Miranda (1926 -2011). Much water has flown under the Panjim Bridge since then. Thanks essentially to Gerard da Cunha, a Goa based architect whose firm Architectural Autonomous runs the Mario gallery in Porvorim, Goa and now has branches in Panjim and Calangute (both in Goa).They also have a kiosk close to Shoppers Stop in Bandra, Bombay. At all these places you can find a huge collection of Mario’s work and related merchandise varying from prints to mugs to books to t-shirts (you can also order online  at The prices are decent and the quality excellent.
During my visit to Goa earlier this year I was fortunate to attend a talk by Gerard on the legacy of Mario at the International Centre on the outskirts of Panjim. In this talk, Gerard highlighted the various dimensions of Mario’s work which are often overlooked by the general public. I have tried to summarize the same below:-

A.      Cartoonist:- Most of us have known Mario by his cartons which appeared regularly in The Illustrated Weekly of India and The Economic Times (published by The Times of India group where he was employed). Many of these  revolved around  a corporate setup  as the two cartoons below illustrate

These cartoons were often dominated by the sexy secretary Ms Fonseca, in a polka dot miniskirt and her Boss
Some were also a scathing commentary on the politicians and the political situation in the country though he mostly refrained from directly ridiculing a particular politician or a  political party unlike his colleague at The Times of India ,R K Laxman. The cartoons below would rank amongst his top political cartoons.

Like all good art, most of his cartoons (including those shown above ) would transcend time and  are  still as relevant today as they were when they were originally published more than  20 years back.

B.      Socio-Historical:- Mario started drawing at an early age of  6 and used to scribble on the walls of his house in Goa. His mother then got him a blank notebook in which he started maintaining his daily diary by sketching the happening in his surroundings. He continued with this habit while in school and college. Pages from this diary chronicle the life in Goa in those days (1940s / 50s).A fine example of the same is given below where the details of a dance party being organized and the mishaps that follow are beautifully captured by Mario.

C.      Illustrator:-  Mario was first and foremost a great illustrator. He had an eye for the details and enjoyed observing and drawing people and buildings around him .He drew sketches in a variety of styles as the sketches below show. Infact it would be difficult for a layman to make out that all the sketches below have been drawn by the same person. Look at the observations on the faces of the gentlemen in the striptease sketch below. Each and every individual watching the show is reacting in a different way as the pianist plays on, nonchalantly.

D.      Chronicler of Bombay and Goa:- Mario was born and grew up in Goa and spent most of his career in Bombay. After retirement, he returned to his ancestral house in Goa where he passed away in 2011. His montages of life in Goa and Bombay are amongst my favorite Mario illustrations. Each one features so many unique characters that a story can be woven around each.  On the whole, they capture the spirit of the city-be it  Goa or Bombay. One can spend a long time analyzing (and enjoying!)each and every detail in these montages as is evident from the two sketches given below (Local Bus in Goa and a snapshot of the Bombay local train)

E.       Fine Art:- Besides the cartoons and the sketches, Mario also drew some wonderful fine art in which he adopted a completely different style.

For someone who never attended any art school/college, Mario has left behind an astonishing array of work which would be hard for anyone to emulate.

(The formatting has gone a bit haywire as I struggled to insert the pictures in the blog.Kindly excuse.)


  1. Hi, Great article. Glad you are a fan of Mario de Miranda. Im a great fan of his work too.

    Just wanted to notify you that there are some spelling mistakes : Gerard da Cunha not Gerard 'de' Cunha & Architecture Autonomous not 'Architectural Anonymous'

  2. Oops..sorry.Will correct the same Nyhna.
    Thanks for the feedback and do circulate to like minded individuals.