Sunday, September 9, 2012

Iconic Processions - II

A new group show, ‘Iconic Processions - Sacred Stones to Modern Masterpieces’ at New York’s Aicon Gallery features works by masters, such as S.H. Raza, M.F. Husain, Ram Kumar, Anjolie Ela Menon, F.N. Souza, and Jehangir Sabavala among others.

Blending own roots and universalism
Ram Kumar, like many of his confreres among the first generation of post-colonial Indian artists - including such figures as F N Souza, M F Husain, Paritosh Sen, Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, S H Raza and Akbar Padamsee - combined an internationalist desire with the need to belong emphatically to their homeland.

With Ram Kumar, this quest for an indigenist tenor has not meant a superficial inventory of "native" motifs offered as evidence of a static and essentialist Indian identity. Instead, he demonstrates that a painter can enact the innermost dramas of his culture while maintaining the individuality, even idiosyncrasy of his performance.
An iconoclast and his powerful imagery
F. N. Souza unrestrained and graphic style created much controversy in his life and work. His repertoire of subjects covers still life, landscape, nudes and icons of Christianity, rendered boldly in a frenzied distortion of form. Souza's paintings express defiance and impatience with convention and the banality of everyday life.

Souza's works have reflected the influence of various schools of art: the folk art of his native Goa, the full-blooded paintings of the Renaissance, the religious fervor of the Catholic Church, the landscapes of 18th and 19th century Europe and the path-breaking work of the cubists. A recurrent theme in his work is the sexual tensions and friction within the male and female relationship and their ensuing conflicts.
An icon of contemporary Indian art
M. F. Husain is the most recognized figure of modern and contemporary Indian art; he joined the Progressives Artists Group in 1948. A self-taught artist, Husain moved to Mumbai at an early age and began his artistic career by painting the billboards for cinemas.

Themes in Husain's work repeatedly returned to his cultural roots, but he has embraced diverse influences, be that the cinematography of Buñuel to themes that blended folk, tribal and mythological figures to create vibrantly contemporary, living art forms in his work. Icons of Indian culture through the ages seek to capture the quintessence of his subjects, like Mother Teresa, Krishna and the goddess Saraswati.

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