New Delhi: The Tolstoy Farm set up by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa as a model of community living is the theme of at least 50 visual interpretations by 17 leading artists.

"Tolstoy Farm: Exhibition of Utopia," currently on at the Lalit Kala Akademi here features paintings, mixed media art, photographs, videos and installations by 17 artists.

All of them try to capture the relevance of the philosophy of thinkers like Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy and Nelson Mandela.

The farm, established in 1910 outside Johannesburg on land gifted to him by South African architect Herman Kallenback was a place which Gandhi used as a lab to experiment with issues like satyagraha, nature cure and harmonious living with nature among others.

It later inspired the Sabarmati ashram on his return to India and Mandela wrote about how he derived inspiration from the farm for the freedom movement in South Africa.

"The idea of the exhibition was conceived around a year ago to coincide with the centenary year of Tolstoy Farm, a place which has become the seed of freedom movements all
over the world," curator and noted art critic Gayatri Sinha said.

The farm outside Johannesburg is today a part of a brick-making company and is lying unused. Artist Akshay Rathore's installation of piles of bricks with khadhi strings in between is a reflection of the state of the farm on Monday.

Curator Sinha, says the exhibition by Seven Arts Gallery invites artists to reflect on the philosophies of Gandhi, Tolstoy and Mandela as thinkers who changed the way the world perceived incarceration, freedom, caste and apartheid, capital and labour, independence and colonialism.

"At the same time, it addresses the idea of utopia, both personal and private. As social polity becomes more complex, how does the artist interpret the principles of community, utopia and radical positions?”

How does he deal with the consequences of success and failure? "Again, in a shifting world order, as India now acquires land in South Africa for commercial farming, or emerges as part of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) or BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India,China) countries, how do we view the new circuits of economies and power," says Sinha.

Agencies