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Still life to move art lovers

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A painting by Chittaprosad Bhattacharya
A painting by Chittaprosad Bhattacharya

Kunal Diwan

NEW DELHI: An ongoing exhibition of paintings titled “Still Life -- Adaptations in Indian Art in the 20th Century” organised at Delhi Art Gallery here is showcasing works of 34 Indian artists. The exhibition is open for viewing till January 5.

Curated by Roobina Karode, the exhibition will provide a historical survey and an interpretation of the changes in the concept and expression of still life in art. Taught as an academic genre along with “portraiture” and “life study” at art schools established chiefly in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in the later half of the 19th Century, still life was initiated as a classroom exercise and pursued later as “studio compositions” by artists.

According to Ms. Karode, “the idea to host the show sparked off from a casual encounter with a suite of paintings in the gallery’s collection. It has brought forward works of Indian artists who were introduced to still-life paintings by the colonial system of art education”.

Delhi Art Gallery director Ashish Anand says it is unfortunate that such an intriguing and inscrutable genre continued to discomfort art critics and art historians alike and despite its enduring presence had been marginalised as a lesser art form.

The early manifestations of still life can be seen in the works of Pestonji Bomanji, M.V. Dhurandhar, Ambika Dhurandhar, G. S. Haldankar, S. G. Thakar Singh, V.A. Mali and Abalall Rahiman. Other examples include sketches by Nandalal Bose, Benode Behari Mukherjee, Chittaprosad Bhattacharya and Gopal Ghose.

The modernist renditions of the genre are seen in the works of F.N. Souza, K.H. Ara, H. A. Gade, P. T. Reddy and Laxman Pai.

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