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The masters meet

Works of various Indian masters are featured at an exhibition in Art World

IT'S AN opportunity for art connoisseurs, collectors and students to indulge in the luxury of viewing at an exhibition, which, while celebrating the seventh anniversary of Art World, is also a showcasing of the personal collection of Sarala and Bishwajit Banerjee.

The works of the Indian artists displayed are weighty, their status within the development of modern Indian art impressive, their creative and experimental explorations dynamic, their vision and approach avant garde. The show has works of artists M.V. Dhurandhar, D.P. Roy Chowdhary, Atul Bose, K.C.S. Paniker, Binod Behari Mukherjee, Paritosh Sen, N.S. Bendre, F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Chowdhary, Ganesh Haloi, K.G. Subramanan, Laxma Goud, J. Sultan Ali, P.T. Reddy, K.Ramanujam, Anjali Ela Menon, Gopal Ghosh, Shayamal Datta Ray, T. Vaikuntham, Suhas Roy, Redappa Naidu, K.M. Adimoolam, B. Vitthal, K.S. Rao, Paresh Maity, Ganesh Pyne, C. Douglas, Badrinarayan, Bimal Das Gupta and Shuvaprasanna.

Myriad themes

What makes this show formidable is its diversity and versatility in terms of themes, expression, techniques and mediums. Nearly all the artists are credited with initiating new trends in India. Dhurandhar excelled in academic realism and was the first Indian painter committed to figurative art, Roy Chowdhary described by Stella Kramrisch as a "wizard of water colour" has a gouache on display, and Paniker, a visionary and a theorist experimented boldly to evolve the Words and Symbol series, the likes of which modern Indian art has never seen and was the founder of the Madras Art Movement and Cholamandal Artists Village.

Paritosh Sen's works have shown a wide gamut of themes, techniques and styles, from humour, satire to social issues. N.S. Bendre is considered to be the first Indian cubist; Souza, Husain and Raza were the founders of the Progressive Art Group in Bombay in 1947, a move, which revitalised and revolutionised the whole approach to art making in post-Independent India. Anjali Ela Menon as a vibrant youth in the 1960s, set a new trajectory in art with her kitsch work of 1990s, redefining the popular culture in artistic representation.

In Kolkata, the artists B.B. Mukherjee, Subramayan, Jogen Choudhury, Gopal Ghosh, Ganesh Pyne, Ganesh Haloi, Shuvaprasanna, Suhas Roy, Bimal Dattaray and Paresh Maity cover three generations of modern Indian art. B.B. Mukherjee one of the first student of Kala Bhavan at Shantiniketan, transformed the institution into a seminal centre in pre-independent India. He was involved in exploring the rationale underlying different pictorial conventions finally bringing together the skeins of folk and Indian classical styles, Far Eastern calligraphic painting and early Renaissance conventions with post-cubist idiom.

Poetry in paint

Subramanyan privileges eclectic ideas and forms in terms of the 20th Century art. Ganesh Haloi excels in abstraction having created poetry in paint with his colour smithing and linear strokes. Jogen Chowdhary's iconography is allegorical; his technique defyingly detailed, particularly his pen and ink with oil pastels.

Ganesh Pyne interrogates the domain of contemporary culture through timeless imagery as evident in his works of Puranas and Mahabharata; Shyamal Datta Ray, an accomplished water colourist, his works are grounded in social issues gesturing particularly towards the proletariat and their struggles. These are mediated in a technique and iconography that is movingly expressionistic. Suhas Roy's portraits exude an aura of romanticism with an undercurrent of sensuality, lyricism and enigma. Bimal Das Gupta's landscape is abstract yet real, particularly in his technique of water laded brush blotches.

Shuvaparasanna's works are visionary, playing on the threshold of reality and imagination, fantasy and dreams. They are complex, sensitively inscribed with folk figuration. Paresh Maity's works exude the warm vibrancy of colours, juxtaposed craftily with his meticulous geometricised forms but replete with sensuousness, be it eyes, portraits or figurative compositions. The artistic fare offered from the South though limited is seminal. Sultan Ali, who in the tradition of Paniker and Redappa, juxtaposed script with figuration and created masterpieces in folk language; Redappa Naidu's exploration of tradition and playing within the sacrosanct space of Hindu iconography led him to create paintings of Devis and Ganeshas that are truly modern in their interpretation and minimalism. Ramanujam's onerous world is crafted with line that is painterly as well linear, Laxma Goud's versatility in various mediums is an established fact, yet these early works of drawings and gouache reveal his mastery as a draughtsman and as a wonderful colourist. P.T. Reddy, who consciously delved into tradition to reconfigure yantric diagrams, created hard-edged abstractions.

Adimoolam's abstracts have been minimalised from the colours of the rainbow and diversity of strokes to monochromatic and calculated slashes. Douglas' works in grey and white on a miniature scale are endearing and unusual yet replete with his characteristic imagery, forms and detailed cornucopia.

Though the works of the masters are not large, what makes them truly affordable is their small size. Some of them are post-card size yet collectable because of the signature.

The exhibition is on at Art World till October 29.


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