Bengal Panorama : The legacy and The Continuity
The revivalist art of Bengal which dominated the art scene of late nineteenth and early twentieth century in India went through a radical change under the leadership of artists and art educators of almost every important art centre in the country. The art school established by the British already positioned Calcutta a major art centre. Against the mythological and romantic subjects of the Bengal school, Santiniketan, under the guidance of Rabindranth Tagore directed towards universal understanding of art where western modernism, styles, mediums were taught and studied along with native artistic subjects and forms that created an Indian modernist language. Before Independence, the Indian style and academic realism in the metropolitan Calcutta and the newly formed Indian modernism at Santiniketan were primarily practiced. In the 40s, famine-stricken Bengal, social movements, freedom and Indian Independence movement found reflection in art and literature, turning practices into movements, and the artistic expression became an expression of the self and one’s surrounding.
Highlighting the artistic continuity of modern and contemporary Bengal, the works of Bengal Panorama are chosen from the private collection of the gallery. Featuring several styles, genres, periods, themes that have been prevalent throughout the history of Bengal modernism, the exhibition showcases over fifty artworks by a range of modernists, including master artist Nandalal Bose, Ajoy Ghosh, Paritosh Sen, Bijon Chowdhury, Bipin Behari Goswami, Prokash Karmakar, Isha Mahammad, Sunil Das, Suhas Roy, Lalu shaw, Jogen Chowdhury, Rabin Dutta, Chatrapati Dutta, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Aditya Basak and a few like-minded young artists.
Unlike the 50s artists primarily working in abstraction, Sunil Das devoted himself to figuration and occasionally tried his hand at sculpture. Master sculptor, Bipin Behari Goswami’s patina-coated bronze represents his signature style and interest in the modern idiom. One of the best among his generation of Calcutta painters, Bijon Chowdhury occasionally painted mythological works apart from socio-political themes, whereas Lalu Prasad Shaw mainly focused on his babu-bibi series in tempera or gouache. Drawing from mythology and history, Ajoy Ghosh mastered wash technique of Abanindranth Tagore. Portraying the diversity of Bengal modernism, the exhibition incorporates spontaneous drawings by Nandalal Bose, a sketch by Jogen Chowdhury, a narrative canvas by Isha Mahhammad, a nude by Prokash Karmakar, Suhas Roy’s still-life, and a self portrait by Partiosh Sen as a thinker. Whether it be Chatrapati Dutta’s cityscape, Rabin Dutta’s shehnai player, Chandra Bhattacharjee’s portrait or Aditya Basak’s allegorical composition, each work stands on its own. Recent trends of the contemporary Bengal are represented here by Suvajit Samanta’s works dealing with environmental issues, miniature bronzes depicting human psyche and struggles by Animesh Mahata, psychological drawings of Debabrata Sarkar, Nabanita Shaha’s cityscape, Saumen Khamrui’s modernist tempera, Pradip Das’s hint to mindless consumerism including Parbir Bera’s depiction of carnal love.
Connected, only by the geographical confines of Bengal, the artists and art works on display include not just some of the most important names of the region, but also works of individual stylistic importance.
Rohit Soparkar and Hansa Milan kumar are the guest artists of the exhibition.