Friday, March 29, 2013

How Indian art evolved in the 1960s

Following the tumultuous decades of the 1940s-50s, largely dominated by the core aesthetic values of School of Paris, our art scene in the 1960s was witness to a major shift and subtle change in direction: the idiom of traditional Indian art was back in reckoning; many artists entered into an active dialogue with India’s traditional visual language. They reinvented their own unique contexts.

Jagdish Swaminathan opposed the modernist aesthetics imposed by the colonial powers. Prof. K. G. Subramanyan played a huge role in propagating the serene Santiniketan philosophy. He underlined the fact that traditional visual language was indeed a rich art historical treasure. He employed traditional elements laced with a modernist sensibility and gave a new direction to the visual language.

For record, Rabindranath Tagore founded a school at Santiniketan in 1901 and later an art school, Kala Bhavan, in 1919 that became a part of the Visvabharati University. Utilizing diverse artistic strategies in terms of theme and medium, artists like BB Mukherjee, Ram Kinker Baij and Nandalal Bose charted a pictorial history in juxtaposition of its fight for freedom.

As if taking cue from them, a strong sense of nationhood was very much palpable even by the early 60s. KCS Panikar formed the Cholamandalam artists’ community. Several artists of the era looked anew at traditional sources. Ganesh Pyne’s personal and artistic sensibilities prompted him delve into his own heritage, to revisit tradition. Following his exposure to European art, Jogen Chowdhury paused for a while only to evolve a visual language that carried resonances of local traditions.

The throbbing creative ferment in Baroda, India’s premier art center, led to experiments with both the narrative mode and fascinating figuration. Bhupen Khakhar, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Neelima Sheikh, Jyoti Bhatt, and Laxma Goud among others tread a new course. Visual traditions, classical, folk and popular, colored the imagination of several artists in Baroda where Subramanyan played the role of a catalyst.

These artists were largely inspired by the living traditions and past practices. They looked anew at murals, illuminated manuscripts, texts and miniature art. Their fertile imagination and perception absorbed the vitality of decorative elements of India’s rich tribal & folk arts.

No comments:

Post a Comment