‘Continuing Modernity' at Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery is a sweeping exhibition in more ways than one. Not only is it large in terms of the number of artists whose work is on display (32) or their stature (each is iconic in his own right), but also in terms of the sheer size of the canvases.
Rarely in Chennai does one get to see an exhibition of such vast works by these stalwarts, covering entire walls of gallery space. And, to see them hung side-by-side creates quite an impact.
The show sees the coming together of some of the most influential artistic voices in India, particularly Madras, from the 1960s to the 1990s. Each of these artists has a signature style, instantly recognisable, and a signature contribution to the overall face of modern art in India today.
There is Yusuf Arakkal's vast, tender watercolour that speaks of a child's vulnerability and innocence. There is P. Gopinath's brilliantly-coloured abstract in warm tones of reds and oranges.
You have Thota Tharani's vivid sweeps of reds, green and blues against white on the one hand, and Niladri Paul's sensitively-rendered mythological scenes pulsing with movement and energy on the other.
Some works are stunning, such as Alphonso Doss's stylised, geometric semi-abstract renderings of Nataraja. Others are quietly, quaintly arresting, such as Haku Shah's poetic blue-green rendering of the bansuri-playing cowherd. Some are playful, lively, such as G. Subramanian's colourful collages of Ganesha and Krishna.
Others are peaceful and introspective, such as Vasudeo Kamath's delicately rendered water colours of Buddha.
Achuthan Kudallur's signature bold, black-red-and-orange abstract fills one wall, as does M. Suriyamoorthi's vigourously-detailed, energetic rendering of Ganesha in the traditional mural style.
In between, you see Rm. Palaniappan's sepia-toned, historical architectural drawings, or Akhilesh's neatly ordered, geometrically-patterned abstracts, V. Solanki's graceful, muted renderings of the tribal women or Thota Vaikuntam's traditional, vibrant depictions of Telengana women.
Some works are enigmatic, such as C. Douglas' inscrutable, grey-black-and-white abstracts or S.G. Vasudev's dreamy, poetically-stylised imagery. Others are vibrantly approachable, such as K. Muralidharan's iconic, boldly-coloured mythological paintings or M. Senathipathi's signature figuratives in a kaleidoscope of colour and intricate detailing.
And there's much, much more. This is an exhibition that has to be seen — no description can do justice to the sheer talent and experience on display, the virtual historical journey in Indian modern art it encompasses.
The show concludes on April 30.