Progressive Artists Group


Celebrating Bhanu Athaiya's artistic accomplishments

In lieu of India's 75th year of Independence, Google Arts and Culture celebrated Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya as one of India's trail-blazing icons. She leaves behind a rich and wonderful legacy built on creativity, fortitude, and immense talent. One of the early members of the Bombay Progressives group and India's first Oscar-winning Costume Designer, Bhanu Rajopadhye had a historically important early career as an artist, exploring the possibilities of Indian Modernism with her contemporaries at the J.J. School of Art and the Progressive Artists' Group.

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Celebrating Bhanu Athaiya's artistic accomplishments

A.A. Raiba: The insatiable artist

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". [1] 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.       

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A.A. Raiba: The insatiable artist

An interview with Lalitha Lajmi

A ray of light enters Lajmi’s room and falls on a half-painted canvas. The artist’s room is dipped in evening hues as twilight knocks on the door. Brushes stacked in paint holders stand in awe-filled unison like silent spectators as unsuspecting Lajmi continues to paint into the night. Seated on a wooden chair propped up on two cushions, Lajmi’s creative spirit knows no rest. Lalitha Lajmi’s nocturnal artmaking which was first born out of necessity is now a habit she has woven into her creative process.

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An interview with Lalitha Lajmi

F.N. Souza: The eternal rebel

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.

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F.N. Souza: The eternal rebel

Inside S.H. Raza's last studio

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.

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Inside S.H. Raza's last studio

Unearthing Bhanu Athaiya's artistic achievements

Bhanu Athaiya was the first woman artist to receive a gold medal from the J.J. School of Art for her work 'Lady in Repose', which was the first-ever abstract painting to be made by a member of the Progressive Artists' Group . This work which she addressed as Lying Lady in one of her handwritten letters along with The Nuns was painted as a part of her study at J.J. where Vasudeo S. Gaitonde was her mentor. In 1952, Gaitonde created the artwork 'Painting No.1' displayed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

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Unearthing Bhanu Athaiya's artistic achievements

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

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

My tryst with the Calcutta Group by Gobardhan Ash

Sometime in the middle of December, in 1949, I met Prodosh Dasgupta, Prankrishna Pal, and Rathin Mitra at the Calcutta Photo Society at 157B, Dharamtolla Street. Prodosh happened to be a previous acquaintance. The other two gentlemen, however, I met for the first time. “Why, we’ve been looking for you. There’s something we would like to discuss,” they said.

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My tryst with the Calcutta Group by Gobardhan Ash

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


Discovering layers, Bhanu Athaiya

"I wish my mother had seen all this because it was something that was just after her heart," said Radhika Gupta, the daughter of the Oscar-winning costume designer and artist Bhanu Athaiya. Talking about the documentation of her mother's antique textile collection recently consigned to Prinseps, Radhika Gupta dotes over her mother's inherited legacy.  

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Discovering layers, Bhanu Athaiya



Gobardhan Ash’s Avatars - Physical & NFT Auction

Background Avatar, also known as a profile picture or user picture in the computing world, refers to a graphical representation of a user or the user's character or persona or possibly physical traits. It may take either a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities or a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds. (Wikipedia)

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Gobardhan Ash’s Avatars - Physical & NFT Auction


M.F. Husain: The King of Hearts by Ashvin E. Rajagopalan

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. 

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M.F. Husain: The King of Hearts by Ashvin E. Rajagopalan

Ganesh Pyne: The Mystical Artist

An intensely private artist whose artistic imagination was fuelled by the strange, dark fantasy of his grandmother’s stories and charred by the horrors of his reality, Ganesh Pyne's paintings are quiet revelations of his personality. Pyne's intricate ink works, haunting temperas, and jottings are rich in imagery and symbolism, bordering along the uncanny and drawing our attention to a world beyond the familiar. His art deeply rooted in dark, unsettling images, derived from mythology and dreams. 

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Ganesh Pyne: The Mystical Artist

Uncle Husain by Anjum Siddiqui

I had the good fortune of spending a larger part of my life in close association with M. F. Husain. Or Uncle H, as I called him. He was more than just a friend of the family. He was part of the family. We all lived, painted, and went on vacations together. There were always the choicest of paints and canvases in the house while growing up, for which I am always thankful to him. I got to paint alongside him right from when I was 6 years old. As a child, he must have seen a unique creative spark in me. Or so he said to me in a note, written inside a book he sent me just a month before he passed away. 

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Uncle Husain by Anjum Siddiqui

Bhupen Khakhar: the gentle radical painter

An observer and painter of life, a chartered accountant occasionally picked up his paintbrush to reflect the uncanny, the fantastical, the mixed droll, and dramatic impulses quintessential to everyday life. Bhupen Khakhar (b.1934) unabashedly revealed the melancholia, mundanities, and inner monologues of the marginal man. Khakhar was born in Bombay, but the quaint town of Baroda nurtured the artist in him. An office accountant in the city of dreams, money was not the only thing Bhupen wished to draw.

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Bhupen Khakhar: the gentle radical painter

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