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. 

As part of the exhibition's opening, we hosted a panel discussion exploring the intricate relationship between artistry and patronage in Bengal. The panel commenced with an opening speech by Nirban Ash, son of Gobardhan Ash.  Alongside him were Richa Agarwal, Chairperson of KCC, and Ina Puri, a distinguished Writer, Biographer, Art Curator, and Collector. Together, they delved into the historical and contemporary dynamics of artist-patron relationships in Bengal, shedding light on their profound impact on artistic development. This insightful discussion provided valuable context to Bengal's rich artistic heritage, enhancing the exhibition experience and offering a deeper understanding of Gobardhan Ash's enduring legacy. Watch the panel discussion here.

With over 100 artworks on display, we showcase Ash's diverse creative repertoire, including sketches, landscapes, self-portraits, portraits, the iconic 'Avatar Series' from the late 1940s, vibrant pastels from his outdoor studies, and his poignant 'Children Series' developed over a decade.

From his formative years, Ash rebelled against the conventional British approach to art education. His pivotal role in founding the Young Artists' Union in 1931 and the Art Rebel Centre in 1933 paved the way for modernism in India.

Throughout his artistic journey, Ash delved into the exploration of self-portraiture, showcasing his evolving artistic identity and mastery of techniques like cross-hatching. His avant-garde 'Avatar Series,' showcased at the Joint Show of the Calcutta Group and the Progressive Artists' Group in 1950, left an indelible impression, inspiring experimentation and fostering dialogue within the artistic community

Ash's studio in Shibpur and his residence in Begampur served as vibrant hubs of artistic discourse, attracting luminaries such as Zainul Abedin and Gopal Ghose, who sought inspiration from his brilliance. His mentorship extended to Modernist figures like Ganesh Haloi and Ganesh Pyne, solidifying his status as a guiding force in the art world.

 Read Nirban Ash's speech here:


Through this retrospective, we celebrate the enigmatic legacy of Gobardhan Ash, recognising his enduring impact on the annals of art history and his profound influence on the trajectory of Indian modernism.

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