Curatorial Note

23rd Dec 2011-21st jan 2012 : Indian Impressions- in modern & contemporary art

An exhibition of works by artists K.G.Subramanyan, Jogen Chowdhury, Manu Parekh, T.Vaikumtam, K.S.Radhakrishnan, Niranjan Pradhan, Prakash Karmakar, Ramanando Bandopadhayay, Rini Dhumal, Ashok  Mullick, Atin Basak, Pampa Panwar, Bratin Khan, Debabrata De, Viveek Sharma , Abhishek Dasgupta, Sanatan Saha & others

 

Concept of Indian Impressions :

Modern and modernist art in India has always tried to build up its own identity and unique originality through proper synthesis of local and global form and ideology and in this process of eclectic assimilation has posited some national or regional awareness and impression of its own cultural, traditional and temporal environment, both in form and content. This is true in case of post modern and contemporary art practices also.

In this exhibition we are looking intimately to the process of how Indian impression works in our contemporary art practices. There are artists whose works directly reflect traditional/ regional form elements. There are others who work in western or global form, yet in content are very much concerned about the spatio-temporal reality of their environment.

Reality of India is their principal theme. We are looking into both these aspects.

Installation View Of The Show

Indian Impressions- in modern & contemporary art An exhibition of works by artists K.G.Subramanyan, Jogen Chowdhury, Manu Parekh, T.Vaikumtam, K.S.Radhakrishnan, Niranjan Pradhan, Prakash Karmakar, Ramanando Bandopadhayay, Rini Dhumal, Ashok  Mullick, Atin Basak, Pampa Panwar, Bratin Khan, Debabrata De, Viveek Sharma , Abhishek Dasgupta, Sanatan Saha & others

Art Work In The Show

Indian Impressions- in modern & contemporary art Indian Impressions in Modern & Contemporary Art Paintings Sculptures & Photographs by Eminent Modern & Contemporary Artists The language of art is global! From, whichever part of the world it may originate; it has a universal appeal. However, that universality grows from the local or traditional root. Paul Klee, spoke of the metaphor of a tree in connection with the artistic creativity. A tree grows by inserting its roots to the depth of the soil and spreads its branches high towards the sky. The soil is the tradition; the sky or the upper air - the universe. Nandalal Basu, reflecting on the assertion of the celebrated Japanese scholar Okakura; spoke of art as the confluence or integration of three components : originality, nature and tradition. These concepts were true till modern and modernist art practices were valid, where tradition played a vital role. However, the contemporary globalized art scenario is different, giving more emphasis on ‘global aspects’ than on ‘the local’. Various young Indian artists during the new century show very little concern about tradition. ‘Going global’ is the style of the day. However, in most of the cases global is nothing, but the impression of the concepts and forms generated by the first world artists. Thus, the question - Is this the only scenario of our contemporary art practices? If we look deeper into the flow of works of our contemporary living artists, both senior and young; we find there is a consistent flow of contemplation over various aspects of traditional roots in their works. Most of them cannot ignore it since it is embedded in the history of development of our modernity. So, let’s briefly ruminate on that history. We know modernity in Indian art commenced through British academic art practices since the second half of nineteenth century. Artists like Ravi Varma and Bamapada Bandyopadhyay and others used this form with ample excellence and used to incorporate tradition in their content. Our art connoisseurs during the second half of nineteenth century were happy with this trend. To them, it was a mark of progressive attitude. Even Rabindranath appreciated Ravi Varma during his early youth. However, the outlook about the concept of progress changed with the rise of anti colonial nationalist movement. It was Abanindranath Tagore who first questioned the validity of the alien form of academic naturalism during 1896-97. He contemplated that Indian modernity should rise from our own traditional root, and did it himself. Then came E.B. Havell, whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated this year, as the principal of Government Art School of Calcutta. The association of Abanindranath and Havell, who were first acquainted with each other in 1997, contributed a lot towards the change of situation. Neo-Indian School flourished through the works of Abanindranath and his disciples like Nandalal Bose and others. Tradition of Indian art and culture was explored magnanimously, which extended great regard for tradition to the subsequent generations, and is acting as an important concept till today. The new wave came after 1920-s. The works of Gaganendranath Tagore, Sunayani Devi. Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher Gil and Rabindranath tracing a new way of resurrection where revivalism of tradition was considered an inadequate vehicle to project the temporal reality. Inspired by concepts like; ‘Face of tradition should be reconsidered’ (reflected in the art of Sunayani Devi and Jamini Roy), and ‘National Tradition should be synthesized with the International’ (as revealed in the works of Gaganendranath, Amrita Sher Gil and Rabindranath); formed the new development of the art of 1940-s. Forms of western modernism, primitivism, eastern and far eastern traditions were taken into consideration and amalgamated with our local tradition. This development was further refined by the artists who came to lime light during 1960-s. A unique indigenous identity of our modernity developed through proper synthesis of local and global in the works of the artists of sixties. That trend continued till the beginning of 1990-s; thereafter, the situation changed through intrusion of globalization. Local tradition tending to take a back seat in the practice of alternative art form or cutting edge art, as it is now called. In the greater expanse of our contemporary art practices; however, the local traditional impression has not withered away being much active. The present exhibition of Gallery Kolkata has aimed to focus on this very thought. It has tried to trace the Indian impressions from two aspects, first from the view point of form and then from the aspect of content.Upon going through this exhibition; we can feel, till date,Indian impression is very much relevant in both of our modern and contemporary art practices. It acts in various levels and posits various dimensions. The show displays the works of such senior artists like KG Subramanyan, Prokash Karmakar, Jogen Chowdhury, Manu Parekh, Bijan Chowdhury, Suhas Roy and a few others whose expressions posit an oblique impression of local tradition. They are very much modernists in their concept, and build up their form through uniform synthesis of western modernist traditions, with various trends of our primitive and folk form. Subramanyan, is very much rooted to his south Indian tradition and expands his form from that root. Prokash Karmakar relies on western primitive and expressionist form, but in content he deals with the pains of Indian living. At present he works mostly on landscapes, where he enters deeper into Indian environment. Similar, is the case with Manu Parekh, whose Benaras landscapes is Indian by content only. Jogen Chowdhury’s paintings contain very subtle impression of our folk forms. The image of the Goddess exhibited here; however, contains ample evidence of traditional environment. Similar is the case with the work of Bijan Chowdhury. Suhas Roy, in his Radha series transforms naturalist form into the mythical. There are artists like Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, Dipak Banerjee, Rini Dhumal and T. Vaikuntam who develop their form entirely from the traditional root and elevate them towards modernity. Their works show how the concept of neo-Indian school is still active in our contemporary art. From the next generation Atin Basak and Bratin Khan follow the philosophy of exerting tradition. Ashok Mullick, in spite of his proficiency in western idioms very often amalgamates traditional form with it. His paintings showcased here display mythical elements through synthesis of tradition and modernity. The young artists Pampa Panwar and Sanatan Saha through their art education at Kala-Bhawan; Visva-Bharati, have deep feeling for proper synthesis of local and global.

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