Eclectic Visions unfolded in the bustling heart of Delhi, showcasing the rich tapestry of artistic expression. From poignant socio-political commentary to vibrant explorations of heritage and the fusion of jazz and art, our exhibit was a celebration of diverse voices and perspectives. The exhibit brought together four distinct voices, each weaving their narratives into the fabric of creativity.
As a girl born into the priestly class of pandits from the royal house of Kolhapur in 1929, Bhanumati Rajopadhye may have appeared as an unlikely instigator of dramatic change in the sphere of mass aesthetics. But it is no exaggeration to say that she led the nation’s gaze in the appreciation of feminine beauty, mined the country’s craft and couture traditions, and created waves in the worlds of fashion and consumer desire. One of the questions around Bhanu Athaiya’s vast oeuvre is how do we address her art in the context of her work in cinema and vice-versa.
'Bharat through the lens of Bhanu Athaiya' celebrates the doyenne of costume design Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, and her exemplary vision of India. The exhibit delved into the essence of India embodied by Bhanu's iconic costume designs crafted for Indian cinema. A trailblazer in defining the aesthetics of a new India through her creations, Bhanu left an indelible mark on cinema.
Gobardhan Ash began painting his self-portraits at the age of 27 and continued till he was 89 years old. These portraits could be lessons in self-love and awareness for future generations. Executed in various mediums, these portraits span decades and don’t just highlight Gobardhan’s changing facial features but his evolution as an artist. Most of his portraits were pen and ink sketches, while only a few were in oil and pencil mediums. These self-portraits put a face to the man who carved a unique artistic language and formed an essential part of Gobardhan’s oeuvre.
Fashion is a vibrant and ever-evolving art form that reflects the spirit of an era. In the annals of Indian fashion history, one event stands out as a pivotal moment in time – the first Calico fashion show of 1958. In 1958, Bhanu Athaiya was invited by Ebrahim Alkazi to design the first traveling promotional fashion show in independent India for Calico Mills. This event took place at the "India '58" Trade Fair in New Delhi, making it a pivotal moment in Indian fashion history.
Bhanu Athaiya's life story is a testament to the power of talent, determination, and passion. Born in Kolhapur, India, in 1929, Bhanu's artistic journey was shaped by her father Annasaheb Rajopadhye, an amateur artist who introduced her to the world of art. Kolhapur, a significant artistic center in the early 20th century, was a hotbed of creativity and social upheaval, with the local king actively promoting artisans. This environment exposed Bhanu to the likes of Abalal Rahiman, Dhurandhar, and Baburao Painter, who were prominent figures in the artistic circle of Kolhapur. Of particular note, Baburao Painter was a multifaceted artist who made significant contributions to both painting and filmmaking in India.
This academic exploration serves as an archive, offering a testament to the sought-after portraiture skills artist Atul Bose. Through a collection of newspaper cuttings, we delve into the intersection of artistry and history, with each article representing a chapter in the narrative of this renowned portrait artist. These cuttings, meticulously preserved, provide valuable insights into the recognition and praise garnered by Atul Bose's creations over time, as they secured their esteemed place within museums and government institutes.
Atul Bose, a celebrated Indian artist renowned for his exceptional portraiture, received his training at Calcutta’s State College of Arts and Crafts and later became its Director. He secured a scholarship to study art at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, where he drew inspiration from English post-Impressionist Walter Sickert, evident in his later works characterised by subtle grey and brown tones.
Within the sphere of art historical exploration, the oeuvre of Surendranath Ganguly emerges as a subject of intriguing contemplation. A notable practitioner born in 1885, Ganguly's artistic journey found its genesis at the Government School of Art Calcutta, under the guidance of luminaries such as EB Havell and the visionary Abanindranath Tagore. Aligned with the artistic philosophy of Tagore, Ganguly, alongside Nandalal Bose, played an instrumental role in the revival of Indian artistic traditions that had been relegated to obscurity.
In the heart of Calcutta's vibrant tapestry of culture and intellect, the story of Sunayani Devi emerges like a quiet but glorious sunrise, bursting forth with hues of orange, yellow, and red, while the world around her slumbers in the embrace of the night. Born in 1875 into the Tagore family of ingenious writers and painters, Sunayani's journey traverses a path less traveled – one that transcends societal norms and embraces the boundless realm of creativity.
Ram Kumar’s existence in the art world was much like a peaceful mountain, exuding a sense of serenity and enduring presence. The reticent artist wielded both the pen and brush but ultimately embraced the latter as his mightier sword of choice. Born in 1924 in Shimla, Kumar’s meditative surroundings deeply affected his sensibilities as an artist. He imbibed a sense of calm from the silent mountains and the clear blue skies that found expression in his paintings. His affinity with nature, the serene flow of slow-seeping rivers, the allure of solitary spaces, and the haunting charm of abandoned structures would all combine to establish him as the foremost significant abstract painter in the Modern Indian art world.
The primary objective of this project was to create modernist generative portraits. We believe that NFT's purpose is to showcase serious modernist works. Inspired by a project dating back to 1948, we embarked on this venture with great enthusiasm and are thrilled with the outcomes.
We have attempted to use ChatGPT to help us name the characters. Currently, the names are simply numbers; however, each of these images has well-documented traits and we can use these to ask an AI engine for a name that suits the personality.
Recognised by its distinctive catchy saxophone melody; imaginative, jolting drum solo; and use of the unusual quintuple (5/4) time signature, the jazz standard ‘Take Five’ by the Dave Brubeck Quartet was not the first jazz composition that used the quintuple meter but it was one of the first in the United States to achieve mainstream significance in 1961.
Modernism is crucial and important for collectible-grade art, and this principle extends to art in the digital format. This is what shapes our approach and sets us apart. Notably, this endeavor is poised to be India's first serious modern art profile-picture project.
Prinseps was thrilled to host the grand unveiling of our highly anticipated NFT project, "1948". This extraordinary project takes inspiration from Gobardhan Ash's Avatar Series, a collection of masterpieces crafted between 1948 and 1951. This remarkable collection of NFTs captures the essence of artworks created over seven decades ago, showcasing a distinctive and timeless quality. We are grateful for the overwhelming response sparking a riveting discourse about NFTs in the art world.
As we prepare for the exhibitions of Gobardhan Ash and Rathin Maitra, we have realised that the context and continuum of the modernist movement around the 1940s are somehow forgotten. We strive to bring them to light with the hope of more research and discussions. (Refer here) This write-up focuses on Calcutta and Bombay.
At Prinseps, we are working to change the discourse to redefine the critical period for modernism in India as the first half of the 20th century. Though academia reiterates the same, the art trade seems to have strayed with a focus on the later part of the 20th century. The early 20th century witnessed the uprising of major art movements questioning the status quo.
Inclined towards donning a baseball cap, adorning his rounded countenance with his distinctive dark goggles, along with his hallmark goatee and long curly locks, Louiz Banks, the legendary Indian jazz musician and composer is renowned as the "Godfather of Indian Jazz", for his immense contribution to the genre over the past five decades. Hailing from a family of six generations of musicians, Banks inherited his love for music from a young age and has myriad contributions to his name in the field of Indian music, unrestricted to jazz.