Revolutions in Retrospect: Gallery G hosts month-long exhibition 'The Masters & The Modern' in Bengaluru

The exhibition showcases works of artists like Ganesh Pyne, Rabin Dutta and Jogen Chowdhury among others
Artworks from the exhibition by Badrinarayanan (left) and MF Husain (right)
Artworks from the exhibition by Badrinarayanan (left) and MF Husain (right)

Turkish-British writer Elif Shafak once said, ‘Art is about resistance.’ True, isn’t it? Where it can not usurp power, art stands as a mirror, as a conscience that helps you demarcate between right and wrong.

For members of the 20th century Indian artist collectives, such as Progressive Artists’ Group Calcutta, Progressive Artists’ Group (Bombay) and Progressive Painters’ Association (Madras) – this became the motto. For the unversed, PAG Calcutta was born when the unprecedented devastation of the Bengal famine of 1943 led a group of six young artists to reject the romanticism seen in the works of earlier Bengali artists and discover a new visual language. PAG Bombay rose in the aftermath of the Partition-induced riots, with the will to break away from the revivalist nationalistic art and to encourage an Indian avant-garde that was also engaged at an international level. On the other hand, PPA (Madras) was created out of a need to create opportunities for students at the institute to continue creating art after finishing their academic programmes and came to be known for blending ideas of modernism within an Indian and regional context.

Artwork by Bijan Choudhury
Artwork by Bijan Choudhury

At a time when we are in dire need of resistance to counter power, whether it be as a collective or an individual, it might be a good idea to take inspiration from art that has been created in the past with the intent to do just that. If you are in the mood for the same, head to Gallery G, which is hosting The Masters & The Modern — an exhibition showcasing Indian art from artists who followed in the footsteps of collectives such as PAG (Calcutta and Bombay) and PPA (Madras).

“The exhibition showcases works by Master artists and Modernists across three different schools of art practice. You will find the works of artists like Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Chowdhury, Prokash Karmakar, Purna Chandra Chakraborty, Rabin Dutta and Somnath Hore among others on display in the first section,” says Archana Shenoy, director, curatorial practices, Gallery G.

Artwork by MF Husain
Artwork by MF Husain

The next section features works by B Prabha, FN Souza, KH Ara, MF Husain and VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar and Manu Parekh. Following this are works by Achuthan Kudallur, A Ramachandran, Badri Narayan, KG Subramanyan, KM Adimoolam, Laxma Goud and Bose Krishnamachari and GR Iranna.

“The title and theme of the exhibition were the key. We have kept the artworks on display less intimidating and more affordable for the city’s buyers. We would love for everyone to own a good piece of art and hence, the works have been selected and displayed accordingly,” Archana explains.

Artwork by GR Iranna
Artwork by GR Iranna

Ramachandran’s etchings, FN Souza’s sketches, Ganesh Pyne’s sketches, MF Husain’s paintings and VS Gaitonde’s paintings are some of the rare artworks you can look out for. “It’s not often that you can find the work of so many great artists on display in just one venue,” the curator tells us.

However, for a present generation artist or art enthusiast, who can create art just by giving prompts to an AI tool, in what way will the exhibition be relevant or appealing? Archana elucidates, “Art is something tangible created by the human mind and utmost skill of the human hand. While AI-generated art has its audience, it’s important for us to keep our Indian culture alive by promoting art that has been groundbreaking.” She further notes, “Our younger generations lack cultural education. Visiting an exhibition like this and learning more about history and how it influenced and shaped Indian art, can be quite an eye-opening experience.”

Artwork by Jogen Chowdhury
Artwork by Jogen Chowdhury

Before concluding the conversation, we ask Archana one question on the occasion of March being Women’s History Month. Can you tell us about any lesser-known women artists featured at the exhibition, we ask. “We have few women artists who gained popularity during the era post-Independence. On display is one painting by B Prabha (1933-2001) who painted from the ’50s onward and gained tremendous popularity. It’s not often that you’ll find her paintings on display in Bengaluru,” Archana says, adding, “another important artist was Prafulla Dhanukar who painted alongside VS Gaitonde. While her work is not on display in the present exhibition, we do hope to host an exhibition of her works soon at our gallery,” she signs off.

Entry free. Till March 31. At Gallery G, Lavelle Road.

Email: prattusa@newindianexpress.com

X: @MallikPrattusa

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