My Reminiscences of Rathin Maitra - Partha Mitter

I pen here a few words about the remarkable artist Rathin Maitra. I knew Rathin Maitra by reputation as one of the luminaries of the Calcutta (present Kolkata) art scene. But I met Rathin Maitra for the first time in the 1950s at the Academy of Fine Arts in Calcutta.

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My Reminiscences of Rathin Maitra - Partha Mitter

The Bhanu Athaiya Estate

India’s first Oscar winner, Bhanu Athaiya was born in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, in the year 1929. Bhanu came to Mumbai as a teenager to learn painting at the JJ School of Arts. She went on to become the only woman to be invited to and join the Progressive Artists’ Group and the first woman to win the prestigious Usha Deshmukh Gold Medal in 1951 for the artwork titled 'Lady In Repose'.

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The Bhanu Athaiya Estate

Gobardhan Ash Retrospective Exhibition (1929 - 1969)

Prinseps presents the Gobardhan Ash Retrospective (1929 - 1969) at the Kolkata Centre for Creativity—a captivating journey into the profound artistic legacy of Gobardhan Ash, a luminary of Indian modern art. From March 29th to April 21st, visitors are invited to explore this exhibition, which offers a comprehensive examination of Ash's pioneering contributions to the artistic landscape. Spanning four decades, it provides a glimpse into the creative genius that defined his remarkable career. Click here for a virtual tour of the exhibition. 

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Gobardhan Ash Retrospective Exhibition (1929 - 1969)

Eclectic Visions: Celebrating Modern Indian Art

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. 

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Eclectic Visions: Celebrating Modern Indian Art

Art and Design in the Life of Bhanu Athaiya: Realizing a Dream By Gayatri Sinha

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.

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Art and Design in the Life of Bhanu Athaiya: Realizing a Dream By Gayatri Sinha

Bhanu Athaiya: A synopsis

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.

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Bhanu Athaiya: A synopsis

Capturing Serenity in Monochrome: Atul Bose's Masterpiece, 'Grandma'

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.

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Capturing Serenity in Monochrome: Atul Bose's Masterpiece, 'Grandma'

Capturing Delicacy: An In-Depth Exploration of Surendranath Ganguly's Masterpiece Kartikeya

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.

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Capturing Delicacy: An In-Depth Exploration of Surendranath Ganguly's Masterpiece Kartikeya

Sunayani Devi: A Journey Through Naïve Art and Cultural Revival

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.

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Sunayani Devi: A Journey Through Naïve Art and Cultural Revival

Ram Kumar: The Visual Metaphorist

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. 

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Ram Kumar: The Visual Metaphorist

'1948 - The First Avatars' - Discussing The Ordinals Release

This endeavor strives to be a landmark Artificial Intelligence generated Profile Picture project strongly rooted in modernism. This is not a doodle project. Each artwork is legitimate modern art. We have Deep Learned Gobardhan Ash's Avatar series. These are works created by the Artificial Intelligence engine. Each image of 48x48 pixels has been inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain. The inscribed image itself is distinct and precise. In line with the ethos of Ordinals they do not need an off-chain image for clarity. The images have also been compressed to less than 1 kb allowing for minimal transaction costs. And keeping size to a minimum we have decided not to include any metadata - that would add another 50 bytes at a minimum and in our case only add the name, an index number which is of no consequence. Note that there are no trait names, as each art work is unique. Some of the traits may look similar but are all different.

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'1948 - The First Avatars' - Discussing The Ordinals Release

Using AI to Generate Profile Pictures

First and foremost, each artwork is new and unique having been generated by an AI engine. We are enthused that the engine has been able to train given the immense colour palette of the artist and the detailed texturing in his drawings. This detailed texturing is also what hugely differentiates this project from the simplistic doodle-based profile picture projects. The project is in collaboration with the Artists' Estate, which includes the due transfer of Copyright for these works to the project (this is huge!). We start from a set of around 50 'Avatars' - which are art works that the artist created in the years 1948-1951.

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Using AI to Generate Profile Pictures

Context and the Continuum

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. 

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Context and the Continuum

A page from Gobardhan Ash's diary

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.

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A page from Gobardhan Ash's diary


The Student Movement at the Government Art College by Gobardhan Ash

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.

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The Student Movement at the Government Art College by Gobardhan Ash

Rathin Maitra: A Founder Modernist

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. 

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Rathin Maitra: A Founder Modernist

The first Indian Modernist Painting

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.

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The first Indian Modernist Painting

The Legacy of Bhanu Athaiya Exhibit 2023

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. Click here to watch the video. 

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The Legacy of Bhanu Athaiya Exhibit 2023

Bhanu Athaiya: Early days in Kolhapur

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.

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Bhanu Athaiya: Early days in Kolhapur

Any questions?