basic characteristics and problems of contemporary Indian Sculpture
are very similar to those of contemporary painting. If anything,
it is even more alienated from the great Indian tradition, though
and even more strongly hinged to the modern, eclectic, international
began in the academic style, based on mid-Victorian ideas of naturalism
and smugness, and was a legacy of the British. This mannerism was
perpetrated in the government art schools and colleges established
around the century in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and elsewhere. The
inane achievement of this so called realist or naturalist school
never even attained the height of real academic excellence and
has remained a far cry from the iconographic, symbolical and religious
ideals of Indian sculpture through the ages.
then, when our sculpture was freed of this yoke, towards the 'forties'
it looked again as in painting, to the western world for inspiration,
resulting in similar processes of experimentation and eclectic
exercise. From then on the story of contemporary Indian sculpture
is the story of a transition from academism to well-defined non-objectivism.
We have been introduced to new and unconventional materials, most
certainly in the manner of employing them, such as, sheet metal,
welded bric-a-brac wire, plastic, hardware and junk. Here and there,
our sculptors may have achieved worthwhile results in tune with
the milieu, but this achievement is not comparable with the results
attained in the field in the shape of a renewed interest in folk
and tribal art. But, largely, the preoccupation is still with shape
and form, polish and texture and mid-way abstraction. Contemporary
Indian sculpture has not shown either the speed or variety of painting
and has not arrived at the logical 'cul de sac' which in the case
of painting has provided the necessary height and perspective to
a meaningful introspection, which is called the 'Journey's End'
is a symbolical painting that reaches beyond the explicit pictorial
elements of the work. The crouching, gasping camel set against
an arid desert in the twilight hours has a relevance to life in
Painting : 'Woman plucking flowers' by Gagendranath
Bose is regarded as the most distinguished pupil of Abanindranath Tagore
and his influence was considerable on more than one generation of artists.
In the painting of a woman in the act of doing 'Pranam' one sees both
simplicity and directness of his pictorialism as also the significant
impact on his work of the vitality of folk art.
Majumdar was also a renowned pupil of Abanindranath. The beautiful
picture of Spring owes its inspiration to the Indian miniatures.
Kshitindranath was known for his soft palette and the grace and lyrical
quality of his drawing. He is almost unique in this respect.
Roy was a contemporary of the artists mentioned above, but he, more
than anyone else, sought an entirely different path of expression,
which had a tremendous impact on subsequent painters, deeply inspired
by the Bengal folk tradition. His images and ideas as in this painting
of 'Pujarinis' are direct, singularly stylised, and conceived in emphatic
flat spaces and strong lines.
Tagore shared very much with the painters of the Indian Renaissance
but, he, like the distinguished poet-painter Rabindranath, was an
individualist of an extraordinary order. His paintings have something
considerably common with cubistic approach as in this fantastic study
of the magician. His paintings are distinguished for his individualistic,
highly dramatic concept of light and shadow.
Painting : 'Pujarins' by Jamini Roy
Rahman Chughtai was greatly inspired by the Bengal School. But he was
equally influenced by Persian thought and art, and with these two he
developed a style of his own romantic and poetic with flowing lines
and a palette to match his nostalgic mood.
study of a Head in an example of the work of Rabindranath Tagore who
took to painting in his late years under an irrepressible urge. His
images come forth from the subconscious regions, from dream and fantasy
and have an archetypal quality.
Sreenivasulu like Jamini Roy, was greatly moved by folk art and rural
life. By virtue of the directness, decorative effects and stylisation,
his work should be understood along with Jamini Roy's. Sreenivasulu
drew much inspiration from the art heritage of South India, particularly
from the mural tradition of Tanjavur and Lepakshi.
A.A. Almelkar we enter a different phase of contemporary Indian painting.
It is still largely inspired, both in technique and figurative, by
Indian miniature and mural tradition. But one can see the very individualistic
approach to the compositional problems which had marked a departure
is said above is exemplified remarkably in this simple painting by
K.K. Hebbar. The raphic symbolism of the bride and bridegroom, the
large use of white, the panel of musicians at the bottom, point altogether
strongly at the new concept of structural organisation.
see the full realisation of this concept and a glimpse of its enormous
possibilities in Laxman Pai's 'Autumn'. In Pai's vision, man and
nature are inseparable, two aspects of man and nature into a fantastic
amalgam admirably. The image is elementary but highly suggestive.
from the sixties by J. Swaminathan belongs to a phase of contemporary
Indian painting wherein one sees an attempt, again, to rediscover
sources of indigenous inspiration. The Tulsi plant that sprouts from
the Vrindavan against a symmetrical pair of conical rocks is one
kind of such a resultant image on which Swaminathan has achieved
very substantial and individualistic imagery.
Painting : 'June 70' by Biren De
radiating, iridiscent concept of light by Biren De is another such
effort. What Biran De achieves is a vision of spiritual light, a primeval,
self-emanating concept of light. The dark centre, and the concentric
effulgence emphasises this vision admirably.
concept. of the human figure and of landscape has undergone a veritable
transformation in the hands of the contemporary artist. A painting
by Sailoz Mookherjee, of a mother and children, is an early work.
The emphasis is on the composition and the concern with the basic
formal concept of the figures as a whole rather than on the details.
picture of Kathakali dancers doing their make-up by S.D. Chavda exemplifies
his meticulous draughtsmanship. The strong sinewy bodies of the dancers,
their postures, are very ably achieved. The rendering of the figure
is unerring and the various elements of the picture are soundly distributed.
Subramanyan's cock-seller carries abstraction of the figure further,
and in a way acquires much expressive power. The prancing cocks,
the attenuated man and the cart which carries cocks and the vertical
complex of houses, all this is deliberately so conceived.
Figures' Husain reduces the figures to a purely orchestrated concept
of colour, in mutual contrast. The physiognomy is further abstracted
with the barest of details. Husain has ever been deeply moved by
Indian life and people, particularly by the rustic and picturesque
rural life. Husain has built up a remarkably personal iconography
over the course of years.
an early picture of the '50s, Satish Gujral expresses the idea
of desolation beautifully by a semi-surrealistic imagery. The gaping
emptiness in the background, the suggestion of a man in a state
of utter collapse and the noose, are all part of this weird imagery.
Pyne's 'Mother and Child' is not as simple. as it seems. It has
an air of fantasy and this is true of his paintings in general.
The way the mother and child confront the viewer and the intent
stare of the eyes emphasise the inherent mystery of the painting.
Painting : 'Cock Seller' by K.G. Subramanyam
collage is an organisation of an assortment of materials, both conventional
and unconventional to produce an integrated pictorial concept. Piraji
Sagara uses dismembered odds and bits of old wood and carvings together
with pieces of metal and paint. The result is paradoxically both modern
and traditional. The work relates to a legend on the sun.
painting of F.N. Souza, of a landscape of a sprawling complex of buildings.
It is highly individualised to suit the artist's structural consideration.
It is familiar but has an element of strangeness about it.
Chandra's 'Orchard' goes very much further in the same direction, almost
into the realm of fantasy. The sun-like entities floating in the sky,
the shape of the trees, and the rhythmic cluster of patterns that inter-play,
are part of this fantasy.
are houses and houses. Most of them are nondescript. But some
have character. And here is a house by N.S. Bendre, which has
a remarkable character, a portrait in itself. Bendre works minutely
emphasising every detail to achieve the essential spirit of this
more than a decade and a half Shanti Dave has been painting in
a style that is deceptively abstract, as one called 'Snow Shade'.
It is no doubt a pronouncedly non-objective appearance which
is brought about by diligent hard work and by unconventional
use of materials, like wax and encaustic, along with time honoured
oil paint. He uses script, blocks with folk figures etc. to animate
the surface and to create the texture. Finally what one feels
is a world which is both old and new.
of Gaitonde's early works is unequivocally non-objective. The
wide space in which the strips of red and other coloured areas
float have no meaning, symbolical or explicitly. The dimension
is purely plastic in this work, although in his recent work one
notices a positive metaphysical element creeping in.
Sculpture, "Triumph of labour' by D.P. Roy Chowdhury, Delhi
has painted a lively abstract landscape in subtle grey and green. The
rhythm of the tones and the criss-cross lines more than suggest the
basic idea of flight. Ramkumar was a figurative painter to begin with,
then went to landscape seriously from which he now distils these abstracted,
unpeopled flights into the realm of non objectivity.
important monumental work by the renowned sculptor, D.P. Roy Chowdhury,
is called the 'Triumph of Labour'. The strong muscular bodies of
the men hauling the work, their very animated postures make this
an extremely expressive work. In fact it may be said that Mr. Roy
Chowdhury belongs to the expressionistic school.
in a different vein, but an equally expressive work is a bust of
a buoyant young woman by Ramkinker Baij. The radiant, youthful face
and the ample bosom typify vitality. Sculpturally speaking the texture
is highly expressive and full of energy.
interpretation of a philosopher by B. Vithal is of a head which
is everything and Vithal resorts to an accentuation of all physiognomical
details, such as the nose, the half-open eyes, the long ear lobes,
etc. to convey the basic idea.
sculptor, Sankho Choudhuri, emphasises the physical attributes
in a most vital manner in the sculpture of a woman preening herself.
The raised arms, the flowing lines, the rounded graceful form
add up to the image of Youth again.
often, in the case of sculpture, the material determines the
fundamental formal concept as in his bull by Raghave Kaneria.
Full of energy and brute strength, the bull is poised to charge.
The contours emphasise movement.
elongated sculpture of 'A Man' by Davierwalla carries the concept
of figure in sculpture to an altogether different level. The
animated face and raised arms give it a weird, unearthly character.
There is an attempt to reduce the essentials to the minimum.
The character of the metal is emphasised.
Pandya conceives in a sculpture the stone as a solid mass with the
barest suggestion of the two figures, just enough. The emphasis, as
it should be in the case of stone, is on mass and volume in this upright
simple, pastoral scene of a couple angling by the river side is an
early work by Haren Das, which is rather conventional, unambiguous
and expressively illustrative. A very competent work in its style.
Chatterji's 'Manali Village' is a straight forward, conventional landscape.
It exploits, within limitations, the specific characters of texture
of the woodcut medium.
Hore's 'Birth' springs out of a dream. Therefore, the emphasis is on
the combination of unusual pictorial elements. The rose itself is the
most prominent. It is an etching and the artist exploits all the possibilities
of the medium suitable to his theme.
'Study-3' Dipak Banerji makes the etching medium yield even more specific
effects in this principally non-objective work. The sharp line, the
variegated texture, the incision, the relief, have all the excellence
of an etching.
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