Delhi Art Gallery presents Gods & Goddesses in 20th century

Delhi Art Gallery presents Gods & Goddesses in 20th century
Yareah Magazine
NANDLAL BOSE, Untitled, Watercolour

NANDLAL BOSE, Untitled, Watercolour, 1933

Delhi Art Gallery’s latest exhibition Indian Divine, exploring Gods & Goddesses in 20th Century Modern Art opens on March 15th at Delhi Art Gallery, 11 Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi.

Delhi Art Gallery is pleased to present its upcoming exhibition Indian Divine: Gods & Goddesses in 20th Century Modern Art opening on the 15th March- 26th April at Delhi Art Gallery, 11 Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi. Indian Divine: Gods & Goddesses in 20th Century Modern Art explores the sheer enormity of art a subject which has inspired from the earliest of times. To the present-day, gods have been propitiated, worshipped, cajoled and given a primal place in the lives of Indians. Their prominent place in our public and collective space has ensured their ubiquitous presence in art as well over time. Drawing uniquely from Delhi Art Gallery’s entire collection of over 32,000 pieces of art, this exhibition presents 300 artworks by nearly 80 artists in the modern era across three centuries.

Kishore Singh, project editor and head of exhibition and publication at the Delhi Art Gallery commented:

“The roots of all Indian art can be traced back to its cultural richness and mythological works of sculpture, frescos and miniatures. This rich body of art traced its genesis to spirituality and religious storytelling and myths. All modern artists have taken their subjects or contexts from this pool, available as a reference of uninterrupted art practice in India.”

About the Indian Divine: Gods & Goddesses in 20th Century Modern Art Exhibition:

The works are dated across three centuries, from the 19thcentury to the present-day, with the earliest work dating to 1849 on saint Chaitanya in the Early Bengal style. The exhibition builds a historical perspective and chronology of Indian art on themes straddling religion and mythology, drawing on the iconographic traditions and depiction of gods and the divine principle in mainstream religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, as well as the vibrant and vivid folk imagination and idiom.

The exhibition begins with late 19th century art on mythological and religious themes from regions as diverse as Bombay and Bengal – these includes oil paintings in the Western style of deities by such well-known artists of the academic realist styles as Raja Ravi Varma and M. V. Dhurandhar, and mythological/religious episodes and figures featured in the hybrid style, a mix of Western realistic painting and traditional Indian art and concerns – the Early Bengal, a very popular form, of which the exhibition presents over 50 works. It goes on to document Kalighat paintings on the religious and mythological themes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that were very popular, as well popular bazaar prints on these themes that flooded the markets with the advent of paper, lithography and mechanical printing.

From here, the exhibition charts the sheer range and expanse of the religious and mythological theme in modern Indian art. The featured works range from the lyrical imagery of the Bengal School, as represented by the historical Siva Drinking World Poison by Nandalal Bose, to modern renditions of the devi and popular episodes from myth and epics, such as the Mahabharata, from all parts of the country and spanning a diverse range of styles over the eventful 20th century and early 21stcentury. These include images of the female goddess, the most popular of whom is Durga, as imagined and portrayed by such modernist masters as Bikash Bhattacharjee, Ganesh Pyne, M. F. Husain, K. K. Hebbar, as well as several renditions of popular male deities, such as Krishna and Ganesha, by artists such as Rabin Mondal and P. V. Janakiram. The exhibition features a number of works on Christian themes and imagery, led by the first Indian artist to have explored the theme, Jamini Roy. Heis followed by well-known artists such as Krishen Khanna, F. N. Souza, Madhvi Parekh, Kanwal Krishna, S. Dhanapal, and V. Nageshkar, as well as a great number of works on Buddhist themes that span time and diverse art styles. While the draw of the icon is strong, many Indian artists also responded to the theme in languages of minimalism and abstraction, producing sublime works to meditate upon, including a number of tantra works – by artists such as G. R. Santosh, Sohan Qadri, P. T. Reddy, Sunil Das and many others.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive, substantial volume featuring close to 300 colour plates, and of art scholarship by well-known scholars and writers examining the nature, variety, historical reasons and diverse imagery of this theme in Indian art.

With this exhibition and the accompanying volume, Delhi Art Gallery hopes to continue to add to the substantial work of documenting the rich diversity and range of themes, artists and styles in modern Indian art and contribute to the current art scene.

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