Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jewels of Modern Indian Art at MFA

Sixteen paintings by modern Indian art masters are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA).The show, entitled ‘Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art’, continues up to August 22, 2010.

A curatorial note states: “Bharat Ratna! offers a visually exciting dialogue between the evolving modernism of western art and the deeply rooted traditions of India and the multiple different approaches Indian artists took, in the aftermath of Independence, to define their own and ‘Indian’ art. On view in the MFA’s Indian Paintings and Decorative Arts Gallery, the exhibit comprises works by several of the leading members of the Progressive Artists’ Group.”

These vibrant Bharat Ratnas (literally meaning ‘Jewels of India’) are drawn from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Rajiv Chaudhri. The duo has assembled some of the very best examples of post-Independence art from India. It’s the first time that a significant number of works from this renowned collection are being displayed publicly. It’s also the first major exhibit of modern Indian art in the MFA premises.

V.S. Gaitonde’s lush tonal landscape Untitled shows his attention to the nuances of light, color, and space. His manipulation of multiple thin layers of paint creates a luminous depth of hue. If M.F. Husain’s golden-toned Ganesh Darwaza (1964) points to his distinctly Indian subjects, equally vibrant is S.H. Raza’s Untitled (from the Rajasthan Series). It evokes the brilliant colors of Jain and Rajasthani miniatures in its depiction of the Indian countryside.

F.N. Souza’s ‘Man and Woman’ (1954) is more contemplative painting. This haunting work is a portrait of two saint-like figures pierced by the arrows of martyrdom. Ara’s ‘Bharata Natya’ shows the famous Indian temple dancer Ram Gopal in classical dance pose with a meticulous eye for the natural fluidity of the body, reminiscent of ancient Indian sculpture. The exhibition also includes Untitled (1960) by Avinash Chandra (1931–91), as well as the paintings by Arpita Singh and Jagdish Swaminathan.

Host of the show, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects.

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