Rare experience for art lovers

Rare experience for art lovers
An untitled painting by GR Santosh
The Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) is famous for its unique biannual ‘Manifestations Series’, which has offered us rare glimpses of work by India’s most renowned artists and also drawn attention to lesser known ones. In its latest exhibition, ‘Manifestations IX’, a number of paintings may seem as familiar to others as they do to me. For instance, I have definitely seen Nandalal Bose’s, sublime depiction of ‘Siva drinking a cup of poison’ more than once — probably reproduced in magazines over the years. However, seeing the painting hanging (live) on the walls of a gallery is altogether a different experience and I am indeed happy to note that DAG considers it the special “highlight of the exhibition...and art historically significant”.

Manifestations IX offers a superb selection of artworks by 75 renowned Indian artists of the 20th century. As has become the norm for most exhibitions held at DAG, it is accompanied by an illustrated book edited by Kishore Singh — with artworks in different styles, ranging from different periods grouped by genre, under the categories of abstract art, figurative art, portraiture, the narrative, mythology, still-life and landscapes.

At the exhibition one can see masterly portraits and still life studies, dating back to the early 1900s created by established painters such as MF Pithawalla, MV Dhurandhar, JP Gangooly and Pestonji Bomanji. For art lovers interested in classical art this is a visual treat, since works by these artists are usually only seen at museums and are a credit both to the quality of teaching and the students for mastering this high quality of ‘academic realism’.

There are other portraits at the exhibition that deserve a mention, such as Abalall Rahiman’s oil on canvas painted in 1912 , by comparing it with Surendran Nair’s water colour portrait of NN Mohandas dated 1982, one can see how styles have changed over the years.

The Bengal school of art is represented by Nandalal Bose in the company of other followers — Kshitindranath Majumdar, Indu Rakshit and Radha Charan Bagchi. The Bombay Progressive Group is amply in evidence as well with names such as FN Souza, MF Husain, SH Raza, KH Ara, HA Gade and SK Bakre. Clearly, Manifestations IX is a rare learning experience for art lovers and an exhibition not to be missed.

Also featuring in the exhibition are artists who created brought their different subjects and techniques to create ‘modernism at its most diverse.’ These are names known to all of us today: Shanti Dave, Manu Parekh, GR Santosh, KK Hebbar, Sohan Qadri, Chittoprasad, Paritosh Sen, Satish Gujral, Ram Kumar Vivan Sundaram, J Sultan Ali, Biren De, Ram Kumar, Avinash Chandra, K Laxma Goud and Laxman Pai and others.

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