Thursday, April 18, 2013

‘Midnight to the Boom’ show

From the moment India achieved independence from British rule on August 15, 1947, through the global economic boom of the 1990s, a revolutionary art movement emerged. 

In this backdrop, one of the top US art institutions, Peabody Essex Museum, presents ‘Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence’. The works are drawn from the Peabody Essex Museum's Herwitz Collection.

In carefully selected juxtapositions throughout the exhibition, paintings by Indian artists are presented with works by international and local artists who resonated with their aesthetic preferences or techniques.  Artists' statements indicate just how such works of their contemporaries and others were used as creative resources. These comparisons expand our understanding of modernism as a global phenomenon and reflect its boundless spirit of exchange.

In the 1980s, Bikash Bhattacharjee rejected traditional themes in pursuit of emotionally charged and visually direct depictions of contemporary life, such as street scenes of Calcutta. After graduating from art school, Bhattacharjee encountered American artist Andrew Wyeth's paintings for the first time, recalling the way "...the differences of country, period and characters melted away."

Bhattacharjee became an avid collector of books on Wyeth, and he continued to explore Wyeth's brush techniques and thematic preferences. Bhattacharjee shared Wyeth's dramatic handling of light and shadow, creating scenes sympathetic in their compositional techniques and tonal gradations. In Midnight to the Boom, Andrew Wyeth's 1937 Charlie Ervine is considered alongside Bikash Bhattacharjee's 1986 The Lady with the Gas Cylinder.

M.F. Husain, perhaps the most famous of India's modern artists, found a source of artistic inspiration by looking eastward. While travelling in Beijing in 1951, Husain met the renowned artist Xu Beihong, and viewed his famous horse paintings for the first time. Struck by their exquisite grace and vitality, Husain returned to his studies of horses -- one of his favorite subjects --with a renewed vigor, drawing inspiration from Xu's treatment of the subject and pushing his work in a new direction.

1 comment:

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