Art in Times of Uncertainty
The Harvest series have for more than a decade reflected ongoing trends and have show-cased outstanding works of art by artists of quality. Today we are doing the same in what can at best be described as uncertain times. At times like these art that is well thought out and executed provides that element of clarity that shows us a way out of the mist of confusing development. To the extent that it does so, it also contributes an element of certainty to the future. That is why art is cherished.
It is this quality in the best of our art that makes it something sought after in periods when things do not appear to follow known trends and patterns. In this climate of doubt and confusion, art helps people look beyond the short-sightedness of day to day events and reminds one that developments in life are much more persevering than the fads, fashions and gimmicks of the moment would have us believe.
Perhaps the most striking work in this exhibition is a study of three horses by MF Husain with heads in positions similar to a three headed beast on a Mohenjo-Daro seal, reminding one that though images may be restructured over time but their capacity to persist is what gives art its role of a light-house in the dark. The three horses of Husain are not the Mohenjo-Daro bull, and the feel of the image has altered its momentum over time as it has fed on a four thousand year old stream of history and culture.
In the same way, the works of Akbar Padamsee, a nude torso and a rare miniature metascape, remind one of the lithe human forms of our ancient art as well as the glowing landscapes that form the backdrops of our Pahari miniatures. These are not accidents, for Padamsee has studied Indian miniatures and has translated their vibrant quality into metascapes that blend the formal qualities of Cezanne with the visual glow of colour of our Pahari masters. A similar blend of the formal qualities of our traditional symbolic art with contemporary modernist expression can be seen not only in the neo-tantric works of G.R Santosh but also in the works of SH Raza, that emerge out of the symbolism of our folk and tribal artistic expressions but present it in the modernist framework of non-figurative art.
On the other hand, the works of Dhavat Singh, a relative of the founder of a new school of Gond tribal art, Jangarh Singh Shyam, who died a tragic death in Japan, exhibits the versatility and innovation with which our traditional artists have taken to modern themes and formats without losing their pristine forms and colour-combinations. If anything, their art now reflects the diversity and variety of the modern life they are part of without losing the unique stamp of their culture and styles. A similar sense of emerging from a hoary past and entering the future with confidence is there also in the miniatures of Chotu Lal, Neelkant Choudhury and Anwar Chitrakar.
If Somenath Hore, Arpana Caur, Arpita Singh, Shahabuddin, Atul Dodiya, George Martin, F.N. Souza and Farhad Husain give us a taste of our radical art at its sharpest and Rajender Dhawan, Manish Pushkale , Shobha Broota, Amitav Das, Mona Rai, Harshavardhan and Ram Kumar evoke contemplation within the same tradition.
Lyrical reality emerges as a sense of inner joy in the works of Raja Ravi Varma, Hemen Majumdar, Sanjay Bhattacharya,Bratin Khan, Maite Delteil, T. Vaikuntam, Anjolie Ela Menon, Bhagat Singh, G.R. Iranna, Neeraj Goswami, Jayasree Burman, Roy Thomas, Sanjay Verma,Saptarshi Naskar, Sohan Jakhar, Seema Kohli, Surykant Lokhande, Parag Tendal,Sachindranath Jha, Krishen Khanna, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Paresh Maity, Meena and Om Pal Sansanwal. Balraj Khanna’s works, those of Krishnamachari Bose, Karan Khanna, and Nusra Latif Qureshi communicate the message of the lightness of being in our times.
The sculptures of K.S. Radhakrishnan, Venkat Bothsa, Sakti Burman, Sheela Chamariya, Arun Kumar H.G, Srinivasan and Adeela Suleman reflect not only a wide variety of styles and expression but also the continuity of our sculptural tradition over centuries, constantly changing and yet not losing its essence.
It is interesting how in times of darkness artists open up windows of light. So it is this light we bring to the viewer this year to hold dear and look ahead to better days.
Art Critic, Writer.