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Staying in with Mario de Miranda (excerpt)

StoryLTD is holding the first auction in the series The World of Mario, and I couldn't help but notice that Mario de Miranda's timeless works speak to the present moment. Here is an excerpt from a piece I wrote about the artist and finding comfort and humour in his vision in the first few weeks of lockdown.

Has living with the whole family ever been this chaotic? Try to find a corner you can retreat to for some alone time. Mario de Miranda, Shocks on the Home Front, circa 1970s. Image courtesy of StoryLTD.


With his sharp wit and satirical yet sympathetic portrayals of daily life, Indian artist and cartoonist Mario de Miranda is the perfect companion during a lockdown. 

Beginning 

Mário João Carlos do Rosário de Brito a Miranda, more often known simply as the “Mario” of his signature, was born in 1926 in the Portuguese enclave of Daman. Four years later, his family moved to Goa, which inspired much of his work throughout his career. 

Miranda described himself as a “social cartoonist” and someone who “loves to draw,” but had no formal training in art – he received a BA (Hons) degree in the History of English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay. Prior to that, he studied at St. Joseph’s High School in Bangalore, where he became famous for his caricatures among the students, getting into the occasional spot of trouble. A fellow student recounted one such incident: 

Our Science teacher Alec Alvares once demonstrated how invisible ink was made. He gave the class an assignment to make some invisible ink, write a few words with it, and to bring the papers to class. He would hold them near a glow-lamp and read them out. When he was reading these messages, he held up one paper and demanded: ‘Who did this?’ It was a caricature of Alvares himself. Mario stood up and admitted that he was the culprit. The Science Master stared at him for a long time. Then he said, ‘You seem to have a gift for this sort of thing. Keep it up and good luck to you.' 

Miranda kept “diaries” filled with his drawings and caricatures from an early age, documenting the people and world around him. These diaries were his constant companions, whether in Goa, during his school and college years, or on his travels across Europe, and many were later published. 

Tried your hand at a new hobby yet? It doesn't have to be perfect. Mario de Miranda, I Don't Like the Mouth, circa 1990s. Image courtesy of StoryLTD.


Roaming

The artist moved to Bombay in 1951 in search of a job, and began his artistic career freelancing, drawing postcards and illustrations. He soon got a break doing a weekly cartoon for The Current, and was later invited by Walter Langhammer, the Art Director of the Times Group, to join them. This association led to Miranda’s work appearing in national publications such as the Illustrated Weekly of India. In 1959, while travelling in Lisbon, Portugal, he was offered a one-year scholarship by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian based on the sketches in his diaries. He worked in London in 1960-61 before returning to India and rejoining the Times Group.

Read the complete article here or here.

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