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.
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.
Like a blithe child colouring on the walls despite protests, nothing deterred F.N. Souza (b. 1924) from asserting his art. His art, whose first impact is to shock, elicits a childlike element of uninhibited honesty with no filter, unafraid, and almost oblivious to those offended. His unrestrained and thought-provoking body of work makes one wonder about the power of art and its hold over the human psyche. Broad and bold lines jump out of the canvas attacking with speed, deeming him an eternal rebel.
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 meditative quality fills the senses as one steps into Raza's creative sanctuary in Delhi. Walls of art adorn each corridor, doorway, and room, giving one a glimpse inside the artist's mind. The leitmotif of Bindu in Raza's art looks out from all his canvases. While old photographs and a typewriter tell stories from another time. This studio is an exhibition of Raza's intimate world as an artist and a dreamer.
Focusing on Modernism in Indian Art in the early 20th century
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.
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.
Francis Newton Souza was born in 1924 in Saligao, Goa. He was expelled for participating in the Quit India Movement while studying at the Sir J J School of Art in Mumbai. In 1947, he founded the Progressive Artists' Group along with S H Raza, M F Husain, and K H Ara, among others. Souza's style created thought-provoking and powerful images.
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.