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.
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.
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.
I sit staring into the blank canvas. My mind is unfettered, reaching out to embrace the world. All these shapes and scenes flit lucidly through my head, some familiar, others, I know not. Speaking of Modern Art, I must emphasise the fact that the art being created these days, cannot simply be labeled as Indian Art.
The Principal of the Government Art School, Mr. Percy Brown was scheduled to retire In 1928. Jamini Prakash Ganguly, the Vice-Principal was still two years away from retirement, and in fact, owed two years’ worth of leave. Mukul Dey, the artist was rumoured to be next in line for the office of Principal of the Art School. Sri T. A. Achary held the office of Head Master, while Nandalal Roy Chowdhury was Head Clerk and Superintendent of the Students’ Hostel on Corporation Street, where he was a resident too. Perhaps, one may as well have approached these very individuals to inquire as to the situation that had been brewing.
Rathin Maitra (b. 1913), along with Prodosh Das Gupta, established the Calcutta Group, which gained widespread recognition in India for its influential contribution to modern Indian painting much before the Progressives.
Modern art is a continuum - so the above title is not appropriate but necessitated due to recent events. The artwork pictured here is crucially important and was extracted around 2017 from Jamini Roy’s residence in Ballygunge Place East. The work used to be so significant that it would be seen at the entrance of his studio and was used in every exhibition as a welcome continuing the Bengali tradition of Alpona.
Following the opening of The Legacy of Bhanu Athaiya exhibit was an insightful discussion between stalwarts Ritu Kumar (Textile Historian and Fashion Designer) and Kiran Nadar (Founder and Chairperson KNMA). H.H. MAHARANI Radhika Raje Gaekwad of Baroda inaugurated the event and fondly spoke of her learnings while documenting and intensively researching the legacy of India's most globally renowned costume designer Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya.
Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya (b. 1929) was born in her 300-year-old sprawling ancestral house in the heart of Kolhapur. Bhanu grew up surrounded by indigenous and western political, social and cultural influences. Her ability to translate all this information into the medium of cinema and art made her the first Indian ever to win an Oscar. Bhanu Athaiya is not only recognised as the revered doyenne of Indian costume designers; but also a remarkable modernist artist.
In lieu of India's 75th year of Independence, Google Arts and Culture celebrated Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya as one of India's trail-blazing icons. She leaves behind a rich and wonderful legacy built on creativity, fortitude, and immense talent. One of the early members of the Bombay Progressives group and India's first Oscar-winning Costume Designer, Bhanu Rajopadhye had a historically important early career as an artist, exploring the possibilities of Indian Modernism with her contemporaries at the J.J. School of Art and the Progressive Artists' Group.
An unabating artist whose creative expression was unfazed by the trials and tribulations he faced, A.A. Raiba (b. 1922) was relentless; almost restless in his artistic pursuits till the very end saying, “Itni Umar Gayi, Kam khatam nahi Hua".  His visual narrative was derived from his love for Urdu poetry and Islamic Literature. Born in Mumbai, most of Raiba’s works exude nostalgia and are intimate observations of old Bombay and his travels all over the country. Raiba’s oeuvre is rooted in intensively researched history with influences from his lifelong practice in Calligraphy.
A ray of light enters Lajmi’s room and falls on a half-painted canvas. The artist’s room is dipped in evening hues as twilight knocks on the door. Brushes stacked in paint holders stand in awe-filled unison like silent spectators as unsuspecting Lajmi continues to paint into the night. Seated on a wooden chair propped up on two cushions, Lajmi’s creative spirit knows no rest. Lalitha Lajmi’s nocturnal artmaking which was first born out of necessity is now a habit she has woven into her creative process.
Lalitha Lajmi an Indian painter recalls her childhood days and memories with late filmmaker and brother Guru Dutt in these handwritten notes. These notes give us an insight into the influences that led her to nurture her passion for art and cinema. Read on to know more.