K G Subramanyan (1924 – 2016): A Tribute to the Master Artist

Subramanyan was one of the leading artists who was part of India’s post-Independence search for identity through art. A writer, scholar, teacher and art historian, he was prolific in his art, spanning the spectrum of mediums from painting to pottery, weaving, and glass painting. He believed in the value of Indian traditions and incorporated folklore, myth and local techniques and stories into his work.

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Experiments with Truth: Atul Dodiya

Ipshita Sen of Saffronart shares a note on Atul Dodiya’s current exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. 

New York: Atul Dodiya, is one of India’s leading and most significant contemporary artists. His solo exhibition ‘ Experiments with Truth’ at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, curated by cultural theorist and poet Ranjit Hoskote, brings together for the first time over 80 works by the artist over his prolific career from 1981-2013. It will also show works made by the artist during his time as a student at the J. J. School of Art in the early 1980’s.

Atul Dodiya at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi<br />Image Source: http://www.platform-mag.com/art/atul-dodiya.html?para=2#article_title

Atul Dodiya at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
Image Source: http://www.platform-mag.com/art/atul-dodiya.html?para=2#article_title

The exhibition highlights Dodiya’s versatile artistic practice as he experiments, embraces and explores with various mediums- oil, acrylic, watercolor, mixed media works, sculpture installations, assemblages and photography. His tendency to work with different media and refusing to stick to a homogenous style is distinctive of Dodiya’s work. It is this ability of working across various mediums and juxtaposing Western art history and popular Indian culture through his work, that marks his oeuvre and makes him one of the most sort after and distinguished contemporary artists in India.

Dadagiri, 1998. Oil, acrylic and marble dust on canvas.<br />Image Source: http://www.gallerychemould.com/news/atul-dodiya-experiments%20with%20truth.html

Dadagiri, 1998. Oil, acrylic and marble dust on canvas.
Image Source: http://www.gallerychemould.com/news/atul-dodiya-experiments%20with%20truth.html

The audience is confronted with a variety of forms and mediums capturing the contrasting nature of change. Dodiya being highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy puts the exhibition in perspective and forms an invisible string connecting the political, cultural and spiritual contexts in his expansive work. Atul Dodiya’s own artistic journey has been considered as constant experiments with the ‘truth’.

Strong influences of artists such as Nandalal Bose, Benodebehari Mukherjee, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Tyeb Mehta, Gerhard Richter and Bhupen Khakhar can be traced in Atul Dodiya’s art. Works by these masters will also be on display as reference points, enabling the visitor to comprehend Dodiya’s work more effectively.

Atul Dodiya pursued his bachelors of Fine Arts from Sir J. J. School of Art in Mumbai. He furthered his academic training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1991 to 1992 subsequent to a scholarship awarded by the French Government. He currently lives and works in Mumbai.

Bauhaus in Calcutta: The Opening of an Exhibition that Revisits 1922

Gaganendranath Tagore, "Poet Rabindranath on the Island of Birds," 1920s; Image credit: www.timerime.com

Gaganendranath Tagore, “Poet Rabindranath on the Island of Birds,” 1920s; Image credit: http://www.timerime.com

Guest blogger Tracy Buck shares details on a forthcoming show of Bahaus artists

Dessau: On March 27, 2013 the Bauhaus Dessau will open “Bauhaus in Kalkutta,” a show of works by Bauhaus artists including Kandinsky, Klee, and Feininger as well as Indian artists such as Gaganendranath Tagore.  Described as a “special laboratory of the transcultural avant-garde” on the Bauhaus’ website, the show looks back for the first time at the artistic exchange and political climates of the original 1922 exhibit on which it is based.

Wassily Kandinsky, "Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle)," 1913Image credit: www.ngma.gov

Wassily Kandinsky, “Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle),” 1913
Image credit: http://www.nga.gov

Art Historian Partha Mitter – one of the present show’s curators – has referred to the December 1922 exhibition as an entry point for modernism in India in his seminal work The Triumph of Modernism: Indian Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1922-1947 (2007).  Indian artists (or, at least Bengali intelligentsia) began to move away at this point from naturalism towards non-representational art.  As Mitter describes, however, neither the artists’ reception nor the path towards experimentation was necessarily smooth and even.  Earlier press had depicted cubism in particular as bizarre, distorted, too extreme; others, particularly artists and intelligentsia, welcomed the influx of new inspiration, talent, and the opportunity for international exchange.  Important, then, is the present show’s interest in reconstructing and revisiting the political conditions and international environment of that original 1922 exhibition.

Rabindranath Tagore, "Dancing Woman," ca. 1910Image credit: http://ngmaindia.gov.in

Rabindranath Tagore, “Dancing Woman,” ca. 1910
Image credit: http://ngmaindia.gov.in

Many of the Indian artists featured in the exhibition were affiliated with Rabindranath Tagore’s experimental educational site, Santiniketan, and with the Bengal School that was centralized there.  The Bengal School, in these formative years of early Indian Nationalism, developed a style that was considered uniquely Indian – a new art for the development of a new nation – that looked inwards and eastwards rather than westwards for its inspiration.  Its members – Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Gaganendranath Tagore, among others – were internationalist in perspective and lifestyle and were focused largely on Indian subject matter.  Perhaps because of the Bengal School’s interest in avoiding the adoption of Western stylistic and formal artistic conventions for political reasons, the 1922 Calcutta exhibition – with its largely cubist focus – did not receive much attention lasting interest until several decades later, in the 1940s.  According to Mitter, Kandinsky was lauded, the organizers were congratulated for bringing important artists’ works to India for the first time, and critics were reminded that the interests of the Bengal School and the European artists were not dissimilar.  Most of the works, however, remained unsold.

From the perspective of today, however, this fact and the resulting avoidance of the works’ far dispersal has facilitated an important look back at that landmark and historic show.  The Bauhaus Dessau’s “Bauhaus Kalcutta” – opening in March – is set to offer insight into the internationalist gaze and the virtual and actual communities that print media and artistic exchange formed and helped shape.

The exhibition is curated by a group of curators including Kathrin Rhomberg, Regina Bittner, Partha Mitter and Ranjit Hoskote, and will be on view till June 30 2013. Read more.

Images appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the images included in the Bauhaus Dessau exhibition, but rather are representative works of the artists featured.

Guest Contributor Tracy Buck is currently pursing a PhD in Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles.  She holds MA degrees in South Asian Cultures and Languages and in Museum Studies, and has worked as Collections Manager and Curator in several history and art museums in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Save the Date: Lecture by Atul Dodiya at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 13

Manjari Sihare shares details of an upcoming lecture by contemporary Indian artist, Atul Dodiya

New York: One of the most sought after contemporary Indian artists today, Atul Dodiya will be delivering a lecture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on Wednesday, February 13, 2013. For those in this part of world or traveling here, please save the date.

4713-AtulDoyidaLectureEblast.100635The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a world renowned collection, and is one of the largest museums in the United States. One of the highlights of the museum is its extraordinary holdings of nearly 3,000 Indian and Himalayan works of art. These include the 1994 bequest of the department’s former curator Dr. Stella Kramrisch, as well as renowned collector and Trustee of the Museum, Dr. Alvin O. Bellak’s 2004 bequest of vibrant Indian ‘miniature’ paintings, among others. In the recent times, the department has also brought modern Indian art to wider audiences, including when it hosted the 2008 exhibition of the work of Nandalal Bose. To learn more about  this collection click here. For location, visiting details for the museum, click here.

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