Kolkata

1,000 rarely-seen artworks, documents in I-Day exhibition in Kolkata

A Lloyd’s sketch of life in Cawnpore Railway Station.

A Lloyd’s sketch of life in Cawnpore Railway Station.

Mortgage papers of Rabindranath Tagore’s family house in Kolkata, artwork depicting the impeachment of Warren Hastings, paintings depicting the 1857 mutiny, letters written by Viceroys and Indian leaders — nearly 1,000 rarely-seen paintings and documents will be put on display at an exhibition to mark 75 years of Independence.

The show, titled Hindustan Files, will be held from August 14 to 28 and take place simultaneously at three locations in Kolkata: ICCR, Academy of Fine Arts, and Nazrul Tirtha. The exhibits will all be related to the period between 1757 and 1950.

“The aim is to highlight, through Virasat’s archive of original paintings, drawings, photographs, documents, manuscripts, letters etc., the changing socio-political scenario of India from 1757 to 1950”Partha Pratim RoyChief Coordinator of the exhibition

“This exhibition is being inaugurated by the so-called weaker sections of society, who may be economically weak but form the bedrock of the society on which the finer sections emerge and develop,” said curator Ganesh Pratap Singh of Virasat Art Publication, the organiser, about the inaugural event, which will see a group comprising domestic helps, labourers, and weavers pouring drops of water on a seedling.

“It is fitting that these marginal people should come to the centre of this significant event and find place beside the intelligentsia and celebrities, because they were the ones who bore directly the major brunt of the British rule in India,” said Mr. Singh, an art restorer and conservator. “History is not just about wars and rulers but about the ordinary people, the subalterns, and their transition which often remains unrecorded in official documentation.”

Those putting together the show are taking pride in the fact that most of the exhibits are not in the public domain. “Take, for example, the mortgage papers of Rabindranath Tagore’s house in Jorasanko. He had mortgaged the property to lawyer Taraknath Palit apparently to raise funds to build what became Visva-Bharati. This is one document the public has not seen before,” said Partha Pratim Roy, Chief Coordinator of the exhibition.

Focus: Company School paintings

“The aim is to highlight, through Virasat’s archive of original paintings, drawings, photographs, documents, manuscripts, letters etc., the changing socio-political scenario of India from 1757 to 1950. The focus will be on Company School paintings, which create visual anecdotes because painters belonging to that school always painted what they saw in reality -- the administrational activities, army movements, religious and other social festivals, social life, and so on,” Mr. Roy said. “Rajiv Gandhi, when he was the Prime Minister, had said that history should be studied by all and that it should be made a compulsory subject, but sadly nothing of that sort happened. Our endeavour is to fill the gap through art.”


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 1:29:56 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/1000-rarely-seen-artworks-documents-in-i-day-exhibition-in-kolkata/article65757569.ece