States of Departure: Progressives to Modern Day
"States of Departure: Progressives to Modern Day" presents work by seven Indian artists who have been working through the twentieth century up until the present day: M.F. Husain, K. Laxma Goud, Nalini Malini, Akbar Padamsee, Paresh Maity, Jamini Roy and F.N. Souza.
Jamini Roy (1887-1972) is one of the key figures of the early Indian Modernism, whose early work went through a number of stylistic permutations before he settled on a radically simplified style that drew on Indian folk art. Roy's work became known for the expressive power of line, tight drawing and use of monochrome or primary colours. 'States of Departure' contains work from this period of Roy's practice that is now internationally celebrated.
The label 'Progressive' has been applied to M.F. Husain (1915-2011), Akbar Padamsee (b.1928) and F.N. Souza (1924-2004) after the Progressive Artist's Group which was formed by F.N. Souza in Bombay in 1947. Their manifesto rejected the 19th century English art school education that was then taught in most Indian art schools, as well as pre-cursors such as Amrita Sher-Gil or Rabindranath Tagore who were seem as being too derivative of European modernism.
Each now is regarded as a master of twentieth century Indian art, having developed an expressive form of modernity, that whilst drawing on the European avant-garde, was refined through a particular Indian sensibility. This group of artists saw it as their duty to make Indian art catch up and overtake Western modernism, leading to careers of experimentation and large, varied output. Both Souza and Husain produced works on paper through their careers that are key to understanding the development their oeuvres as a whole, and we have a number of these in our exhibition. Padamsee also ranged greatly in his style, from figurative to abstract, and again it is important to look at his works on paper to understand his development.
K. Laxma Goud was born slightly later than the Progressives, in 1940, and worked across gouache, etching, pastel and sculpture. Like Roy, his practice was rooted in the vernacular and attempted to articulate a specifically Indian visual language. In order to do this he returned to the village he was born in after graduating, and made that the centre of his
subject matter whilst also drawing on the legacy of the European avant-garde.
One of the key developments in Indian art since the 1970s was the rise of women artists. Nalani Malini (b.1946) is known for making politically-driven art that make reference to themes such as Third World poverty and issues around feminism and post-colonialism. Her works on paper are more meditative than some of her harder-hitting installations and a good place to start to think about her rich and productive career.
In this exhibition that spans the entire narrative of modern Indian art, Paresh Maity (b.1965) represents the future. He has recently completed a mammoth 850 foot painting for the newly built Terminal 3 at Delhi Airport entitled 'The Indian Odyssey'. Maity has had over thirty solo shows despite being only mid-career and is well on his way to establishing himself as part of the narrative of Indian art.
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