Gods & Goddesses In 19th And 20th Century Modern Art
Kala Ghoda, 11 October – 30 November 2014
Hauz Khas Village, 18 March – 15 July 2014
The exhibition, Indian Divine, begins with the late nineteenth century art on mythological and religious themes from regions as diverse as Bombay and Bengal. These include Western style oil paintings 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 style, a very popular form, of which the exhibition presents over fifty works. It goes on to document Kalighat paintings on religious and mythological themes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that were very popular, as well popular bazaar prints on these themes that flooded the markets with the advent of lithography and mechanical printing.
From here, the exhibition charts the sheer range and expanse of religious and mythological themes 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 twentieth century and early twenty-first century. These include images of the female goddess as imagined and portrayed by such modern 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 this aspect, Jamini Roy. He is 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.