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AICON GALLERY is proud to present Iconic Procession: Sacred Stones to Modern Masterpieces\, an exhibition of works by India’s Modern Masters\, alongside a selection of South Asian sculptural ma sterpieces and miniature paintings dating back to the 2nd century\, curated by Nayef Homsi. The accompanying sculp tural selection is drawn from the Ancient Region of Gandhara\, Central Indi a and Pala regions\, spanning from the 2nd to 19th cen turies. Together\, these works showcase the primacy and endurance of mythol ogical and tribal imagery in Indian art\, while bridging nearly two thousan d years of artistic tradition and cultural heritage\, from antiquity to Mod ernism.

Founded by M. F. Husain\, Ram Kumar\, S. H. Raza\, F. N Souza and other artists in the years after India’s ind ependence\, the Bombay Progressive Artists Group (PAG) grew to be the most influential group of modern artists in India. The artists at the forefront sought new forms of expression\, to capture and convey India’s complex past and its emerging post-colonial culture. The fusion of Indian subject matte r with post-Impressionist colors\, Cubist forms and Expressionist gestures forged a synthesis between early European modernist techniques and the ever -shifting cultural and historical identities of India. The PAG further soug ht to break with the revivalist notions established by the Bengal School of Art\, opting instead to paint with absolute freedom over content and techn ique\, as their internationalist desires combined with the need to represen t and belong to their homeland. Among the immediate inheritors of the PAG’s artistic mission\, masters Anjolie Ela Menon and Jehangir Sabavala carried these traditions forwar d over the decades with their own distinctively Indian approach to modern a rt.

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With a career spanning s ix decades\, Jehangir Sabavala’s body of work was consistent and env eloping\, evolving from his early cubist and figurative works to the more s ubtle and introspective masterworks of the 1960s\, evoking the very nature of human experience. Sabavala created heavily atmospheric canvases that wer e at once dreamlike and acutely perceivable\, drawing the viewer into a wor ld of his own making. Favoring sublime landscapes and ethereal figures\, hi s paintings are born of a distinctly cubist influence. Planes of color fit together in a subdued palette\, opting for veiled light and mid-tones\, con trary to the bolder tonalities and louder imagery of his contemporaries. Sa bavala worked mostly in oils\, creating landscapes\, seascapes\, cityscapes and figures. Well-versed in modernist style and theory\, yet with a strong classical influence\, Sabavala composed shifting geometric wedges with mas terful light\, color and texture\, joined together in vast\, tranquil scene s imbued with a sense of nature’s spiritual magnanimity and  mystery.

Regarded as the “Picasso of India\,” M. F. Husain\, is arguably the most recognizabl e figure of modern and contemporary Indian art. His narrative works\, execu ted in a modified Cubist style\, can be caustic and funny as well as seriou s and somber. His themes\, usually treated in series\, include hallmarks of Indian culture and history\, such as the Ramayana\, the Mahabharata\, the British Empire\, and motifs of Indian urban and rural life. His use of folk \, tribal\, religious and mythological icons\, such as Mother Teresa\, Gand hi\, Krishna and Saraswati\, are characteristic to his work\, revealing his penchant for blending diverse cultural influences. 

F. N. Souza’s unrestrai ned and graphic style creates thought-provoking and powerful images. His re pertoire of subjects includes still life\, landscape\, nudes and icons of C hristianity\, boldly rendered in a frenetic distortion of form. His paintin gs express defiance and impatience with the convention and banality of life . A recurrent theme in his works is the conflict of a man-woman relationshi p\, placing emphasis on sexual tension and friction. An articulate genius\, he augmented his powerful and sometimes disturbing canvases with his sharp \, stylish and provocative prowess.

Ram Kumar\, like many of his peers among the first wave of post-colonial Indian artists\, combined an international ist desire with the need to belong to their homeland. His quest for an indi genous tenor did not mean a superficial inventory of ‘native’ motifs\; Kuma r instead demonstrated that a painter could enact the innermost dramas of a culture while maintaining individuality\, even idiosyncrasy\, of his art. Ram Kumar’s style\, which has proceeded through an alternation of joyous ex pressivity and brooding reticence\, plays out a crucial polarity of emphasi s in the context of Indic culture\, journeying from city to landscape\, via the reminiscing quality of art.

Early in her career\, Anjolie Ela Menon incorp orated influences of Van Gogh\, Expressionism\, Modigliani\, Amrita Sher-Gi l and M. F. Husain. Primarily a portraitist\, her canvases were dominated b y flat planes of brightly colored impasto\, her outlines bold and sharp wit h youthful vigor. Menon embellished her refined texture by burnishing the s urface with a soft\, dry brush\, evoking a glow similar to medieval icons o f early Christian art. Frontal perspectives\, averted heads and a slight el ongation of the body are repeated subjects\, particularly of the female nud e. The brashness of her early years gradually transformed into nostalgia fo r the past\, revealing a more reserved execution. Fusing the erotic and the melancholy\, Menon developed a distinct iconography of distance and loss i n later years\, with subjects of black crows\, empty chairs and beds\, wind ows and hidden figures. The breadth and content of Menon’s body of work mak es it difficult to compartmentalize\, lending it an artistic self-expressio n uniquely hers.

Accompanying the Modern component of the exhibitio n is an iconic collection of South Asian antique sculpture and miniature pa inting from the 2nd to the 19th century\, curated in p artnership with Nayef Homsi. Now a private dealer and specialist based in New York\, Na yef honed his expertise in ancient Indian\, Himalayan and Southeast Asian a rt\, having worked with the late renowned collector Doris Weiner for six ye ars. The collection on view features a pristine Standing Buddha from the ancient region of Ga ndhara \, a large Pala Surya from the 11th Cen tury and a festive Kangra Ganesha miniature\, among many others.

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Please contact Amy via Amy@Aicongallery.com for more information.

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DTEND:20121020 DTSTAMP:20140713T153734 DTSTART:20120911 GEO:40.7268368;-73.9929619 LOCATION:AICON GALLERY - New York\,35 Great Jones Street \nNew York\, NY 10 012 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Iconic Processions: Sacred Stones to Modern Masterpieces\, M.F. Hus ain\, Ram Kumar\, Anjolie Ela Menon\, S.H. Raza\, Jehangir Sabavala\, F.N. Souza UID:237817 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20120911T200000 DTSTAMP:20140713T153734 DTSTART:20120911T180000 GEO:40.7268368;-73.9929619 LOCATION:AICON GALLERY - New York\,35 Great Jones Street \nNew York\, NY 10 012 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Iconic Processions: Sacred Stones to Modern Masterpieces\, M.F. Hus ain\, Ram Kumar\, Anjolie Ela Menon\, S.H. Raza\, Jehangir Sabavala\, F.N. Souza UID:237818 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR