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.
The only time I have seen M. F. Husain in person was at his exhibition in honour of singer M. S. Subbulakshmi at a gallery in Chennai (Madras) in 2004. Wearing no footwear, except for thick black socks, and wielding a massive paintbrush in one hand, Husain was surrounded by a group of Chennai’s socialites. I was patiently waiting behind them to meet Husain when he suddenly popped out and said, “Hello”. I was giddy with excitement and asked him to autograph the invitation card I had in my hand. He did so and quickly moved on to greet the next visitor. Husain was as excited to meet unknown gallery visitors as they were to meet him—the energy was amazing for a man who, at that time, was 91 years old. A year or so later, Husain left India, never to return.
At first sight, this encaustic painting – rendered in heated beeswax, into which pigments of various colours have been mixed – seems to be worlds away from what most viewers know of Bhupen Khakhar’s work. There are no limp-limbed yet curiously wide-awake men from a broad middle class; no domestic interiors laid out for erotic encounter; no playful or picaresque encounters among figures whose ordinariness is belied by some eccentric bodily feature or undecipherable gesture. No figures at all, in fact.
Stated below is the text of the second catalogue of the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group in collaboration with the Calcutta Group. Gobardhan Ash's works were exhibited in the joint show of the Calcutta Group and Progressive Artists’ Group alongside masters such as K.H. Ara, Francis Newton Souza, Maqbool Fida Husain, S.H. Raza, H.A. Gade, and S.K. Bakre at Calcutta in 1950. This document is indeed a historically prominent yet lesser-known artistic discovery in the world of modern Indian art.
A silent, dedicated artist content amidst the walls of paintings stacked in his Begampur mud house stirred a quiet revolution against the preconceived notions of artistic expression. No wonder Gobardhan Ash (b.1907) carved a niche for himself as an individualistic artist who fearlessly explored diverse artistic styles and techniques.
Years ago, artists from various walks of life gravitated towards a creative anomaly near Mumbai's Opera House. The Weavers' Service Centre was established in the 1950s by Pupul Jayakar. Masters such as Prabhakar Barwe, Anand Mohan Naik, Gautam Waghela, Ramesh Vaghela, and Gopal Adivrekar designed textiles at the center for years to support themselves while exploring their identities as artists.
"My father, a multifaceted man, was far ahead of the times. His thirst for knowledge led him to explore avenues of learning beyond scholastic and academic boundaries. He would travel to Mumbai frequently to collect books on various subjects ranging from painting to photography and embroidery to film making. These books were imported from Britain by Englishmen who had big stores in Mumbai.
The city of Kolhapur in southern Maharashtra is often called Kalapur, a city of the arts: a tag that originated in the early twentieth century. This was a result of a social and cultural transformation initiated by Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj (1874-1922).
Manu Parekh was born in 1939 in Gujarat. Parekh completed a Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, in 1962. Parekh’s early work explored the relationships between man and nature, as he thought that it was an energetic link that had to be celebrated.
On the canvas, Krishen Khanna's main concern has been with the human condition and its moral predicament. His approach to this came from a search for allegories that lent themselves to pictorial interpretation and irony. One of his most popular themes is the ‘bandwallahs’ whom Khanna encountered when he was driving out of the Garhi studios in New Delhi.
Jamini Roy's rejection of the western academic style of painting led to him being inspired by Bengali folk paintings. Before he made the complete switch to the pat style paintings, he was depicting village life and folk. This work shows a personal reconstruction of another Indian reality that was often not seen in urban areas.