New Delhi: Indian representation in this
year`s French Open is not confined to just Somdev Devvarmans
and Leander Paeses alone.
The official poster for French Open 2010 has been created
by an Indian artist -- 64-year-old Nalini Malani, who earned
the distinction of not only becoming the first Indian but also
claimed to be the first Asian artist to do so.
Ever since official French Open posters began in 1980 to
celebrate art and tennis, a host of renowned European painters
like Spanish Catalan painters Joan Miro and Antoni Tapies,
Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky have been commissioned to
design the poster for this Grand Slam.
Nalini, a Pakistan-born Mumbai-based artist, in her
design, portrays a woman tennis player, stretching across two
globes while playing a shot.
The female tennis player on the poster has some golden
butterflies flying around her and a woman is lying on the
ground looking up in anguish.
Describing her creation, Nalini said she wanted to show
the struggle and success of tennis players, especially women.
"The young woman tennis player strides the Universe. She
is in a magical space with golden butterflies around her. The
falling figure shows that sometimes one wins but sometimes one
can lose -- but one has to go on playing the game," Nalini
told reporters from Paris.
"It was wonderful to be associated with the French Open.
And indeed it was very satisfying to make the artwork for the
poster that would be seen all over the world. I am happy to
say my work is very much appreciated in Europe."
The butterflies in the posters, according to Nalini,
depict the vulnerability of tennis players.
In the pamphlet distributed to the media in Paris after
the launch of the poster, Nalini appreciated the achievements
and contribution of Sania Mirza in popularising the game in
"She is our youngest player trying hard at the game. Her
tennis has revolutionised the mentality here. It created a
sense of liberation. If it was natural for men in high society
to play tennis, it wasn`t the case, after a certain age, for
young girls," Nalini said.
Asked how she got associated with the French Open, Nalini
said her exhibitions at the famous art gallery `Galerie
Lelong` in Paris helped her get noticed.
"The well respected Galerie Lelong in Paris chooses in
collaboration with the organisers of the French Open the
artists for making the poster since 30 years. It is the
longest relationship between the arts and sports in the world.”
"Roland Garros is taking this art connection very
serious. Since a few years I have been showing with Galerie
Lelong in Paris and last year they approached me if I would
accept the invitation to make the poster for 2010."
Since she has the first hand experience of the ordeals of
refugees as she lived in refugee camps during India`s
partition, her art work often condemned cynical nationalism.
Yet, Nalini says sports was not altogether alien and this
is not for the first time that she has done something on
"Sports is not my topic but in my works from time to time
there do appear sportsmen and sportswomen from various
cultural background, such as running and even sumo wrestling,"
To publicise the latest poster, the orgainsers sent a
film crew to Mumbai to make a documentary. The short version
is screened on the internet and the long one can be found in
the museum of Roland Garros.
Nalini has a long connection with Paris as she studied
fine arts there in the early 1970s on French government
Before coming to Paris for the launch of her poster,
Nalini received an honorary doctorate from `San Fransisco Art
"Now I am in Paris for this launch of the poster and the
opening of an exhibition at the Roland Garros Tennis museum
where my works stand central in an overview exhibition of 30
years of posters. Also this week I am giving a lecture at the
famous Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris," she said.