Gobardhan Ash


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)

Gobardhan Ash: A portrait a day

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. 

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Gobardhan Ash:  A portrait a day


Using AI to Name the Characters

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.

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Using AI to Name the Characters

1948 Avatars Integrated Generative Art

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.

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1948 Avatars Integrated Generative Art


1948 - The Original Avatars

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. 

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1948 - The Original Avatars

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

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.

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Focusing on Modernism in Indian Art in the early 20th century

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


A letter from Ebrahim Alkazi to Gobardhan Ash

Ebrahim Alkazi and his wife Roshen Padamsee were significantly responsible for promoting many members of the Progressive Artists' Group not only in India but also at an international level. Apart from Alzaki; Mulkraj Anand, Walter Langhammer, Emmanuel Schlesinger, Rudi Von Leyden, and Kekoo Gandhy were also active as collectors. 

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A letter from Ebrahim Alkazi to Gobardhan Ash

A note by Gobardhan Ash on The Children Series

For ten long years, ━ I drew and painted several studies on children. This culminated in one final painting, dubbed Commander-in-Chief, complemented by oil paintings and sketches of children in myriad moods and postures in pen and ink, and in pencil. It was common practice in the olden days for eminent painters in the West to sketch or paint studies on a single subject for 20-30 years. Many of these are now celebrated artworks. Such dedication is rare indeed in painters in this country.

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A note by Gobardhan Ash on The Children Series

Fine Art and its Aspect by Gobardhan Ash

The illustration and painting of the globe of ideal- the form of beauty appeared on the playground of five elements in tone a rhythmic posture by the display of harmonious posture. The awakened inner soul of mankind unifies the different sentiments by the marvelous tonal sublimation, the fine arts born in a rhythmic aptitude.

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Fine Art and its Aspect by Gobardhan Ash

M.F. Husain and Gobardhan Ash NFT drops

Alongside hosting the first NFT auction (Gobardhan Ash Avatars) in India, we are also proud to announce the first-ever NFT of the iconic M.F. Husain artwork “Lightning”, an initiative by art collector and entrepreneur Kent Charugundla. This move is bound to transform art markets worldwide. The name of this initiative "LightningNFT" is inspired by Husain's historic 60-foot-long mural titled 'Lightning" made in 1975 as a backdrop to an important speech given by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

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M.F. Husain and Gobardhan Ash NFT drops

Decoding Gobardhan Ash's Avatars

Ash’s experiments in art from the 1950s are characterised as avatars; primitive artworks depicting personality traits. His paintings comprise a technique composed of a scientific arrangement of colour dots, almost pointillist. His works are impeccable character studies. Listed below are Ash's avatars up for auction and an attempt to decode the same with reference to their titles. 

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Decoding Gobardhan Ash's Avatars

The history behind the Art Rebel Centre (1933) by Gobardhan Ash

Art Rebel Centre, founded in 1933, was formed and led by Gobardhan Ash, Abani Sen, Annada Dey, and Bhola Chatterjee. Subsequently, some of those invited to submit their work in exhibitions accepted membership. These include Lalit Chandra, Haridas Ganguly, Samar Dey, Amar Dasgupta, Sachin Das, Kalikinkar Ghoshdastidar, Khagen Roy, and Suren Dey, among others. Manoj Bose and Rabi Bose became members too, despite not providing paintings for exhibitions. The following is a brief history of how Art Rebel Centre came to be. 

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The history behind the Art Rebel Centre (1933) by Gobardhan Ash


Gobardhan Ash’s Avatars PHYSICAL & NFT AUCTION

NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens are a new technology phenomenon allowing clear ownership and easy transferability of digital artwhich can be unique or in editions. In understanding NFT, one needs to understand digital art and perhaps the progression of the mediums on which art is painted/ executed. Since time immemorial - art has been painted on wooden panels, walls, paper, and from around the 16th century on canvas.

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Gobardhan Ash’s Avatars PHYSICAL & NFT AUCTION

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