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Uniting the veteran and the youngster

Even as Delhi Art Gallery puts up works dating as far back as 1900, art lovers get a peek into the works of the late Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni and three very young artists. GAYATRI SINHA



Uniting the veteran MASTERSTROKE: Some of the works on display at the exhibition `Manifestations 111'

AS THE art world starts to slow down for thesummer, there are some small and some ambitious projects being unveiled for Delhi art lovers. Delhi Art Gallery's hundred works on view at Manifestations 111 is something of a humdinger not only in terms of scale but the excavation and collating of works that go back in time to the early 1900s.

Delhi Art Gallery has become a niche repository for early and mid-20th Century Bengal Art, the self-consciously styled School of Maharashtra as well as a sprinkling of Modernists. The current exhibition at Lalit Kala Galleries is not a chronological development of modern Indian art but rather a collation of works by various exponents.

In this sea of images, the viewer tends to register the unusual: Dharmanarayan Dasgupta's delicately rendered Birth of Moon, a powerful abstract Crucifixion by Nikhil Biswas and an unusual quasi-cubistic painting congregation in the village by Somnath Hore (1957) which affirms the artists' interest in collective working class action.

There is also some pleasure in the small format works which appear to belong to artists' sketch books rather than formal gallery spaces, such as the evocations of dense forests by Abanindranath Tagore and Prosanto Roy, a darkly nocturnal owl in watercolour by D.P. Roychowdhury, and an autobiographical drawing with mythic beasts and strange phantasms by the mercurial Ramanujam.


These are works that have an intimate and unguarded aspect, one that makes apparent the kind of negotiation and play that the artist allows himself in moments of not so self-conscious communication with his materials.

The contours of Indian art are continually changing with the play between art production and the market.

Occasionally, the results are unpredictable. Painter and filmmaker Serbjeet Singh's several decade-long love for The Himalayas comes back into the public gaze via a Disney theme part that is due to open in Florida in 2006. Serbjeet's panoramic paintings of the Himalayan ranges with a focus on The Everest.

The centrepiece of the exhibition will be the Expedition Everest Legend of The Forbidden Mountain - with evocations of the mysterious Yeti in the highest reaches of the snows. His paintings tend to be distinctive because he has frequently used topographical maps as a visual source. The other important component is the fish eye lens effect of the camera that he employs as a filmmaker and brings in his paintings.

Another view of the mountains is afforded by Probir Purkayastha's lavishly mounted photographs of Ladakh (Bodhi Art at the Visual Art Gallery). Purkayastha is an amateur photographer who introduces the views of Ladakh as a humanist metaphor for experience and aspiration.


Ladakh is a subject that has already been extensively documented, by photographers like Prabuddha Dasgupta.

The black and white images which are interspersed with Buddhist votive forms, present Ladakh in a romanticised view of the edges of human existence, a pristine state of negotiating survival in an unyielding land for the inhabitants as well as the Buddhist faith. Some of Purkayastha's better images are of purely natural states bereft of human beings, where one is brought up short simply by the beauty of the elements.

Young artistes

Gallery Espace returns to the exhibition circuit with a showing of three very young artists - Mumbai printmaker Tanujaa Rane, Kolkata painter Sagar Bhowmick and the Lucknow-based sculptor Krishna Nag.

Nag, who is a student of Prof Madan Lal from Banaras Hindu University, takes considerable risks in her fibreglass sculptures, follow Madan Lal's interest in aqueous forms, but reveal the artist's own inclination to investigate the possibilities of form.


Sagar Bhowmick is ready to join the ranks of hyper-realist painters with his take on street-side hoardings and the accretions of consumerism.

Tanujaa Rane's prints tend to divide feline body forms into several forms, thus abstracting the idea of composite form.

Kulkarni's works

Some of India's mid-century negotiations with Modernism are best demonstrated in an artist like Krishna Shamrao Kulkarni (1918-94) who is being shown by both Kumar Gallery and Art Konsult. The Kumar collection of Kulkarni's evidently prolific oeuvre is comprehensive and spans more representational forms of the kind that were popular in the academic mode to the muted cubist paintings that the artist so delighted in. He seems to have resolved the tensions between stylistic choices in each work. His backgrounds are often extensively worked layered surfaces, while the surface is inscribed with monochrome linear forms in geometric or cubist forms. One sees his dogged persistence with an indebtedness to both Picasso and Klee.

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