The exhibition brings together important works of art spanning a wide range of genres, forms, periods and styles. They are grouped by genre and each thematic arrangement features a select collection of artworks that are milestones in Indian modernism, as well as in the development of the artistic language of several of the participating artists.
The exhibition presents a selection of exciting works from the Indian modernist stable, especially the artists of the influential Progressive Artists’ Group. It features a figurative work by M. F. Husain, an early abstract work from 1959 by S. H. Raza painted in France years before he arrived at the Bindu series he came to be known for, and a portrait by F. N. Souza from his celebrated Heads series that captures his unique response to a well-known Christian theme in art, the martyr St. Sebastian. K. H. Ara features with a rural landscape, S. K. Bakre with an abstract cityscape and colourist nonpareil H. A. Gade participates with a naturescape of a winding river dominated by glowing shades of indigo.
In the Portraiture section, the exhibition presents an alluring collection including several from the luminaries of academic painting in India—M. V. Dhurandhar, Abalall Rahiman, M. F. Pithawalla and N. R. Sardesai; a watercolour portrait by Rabindranath Tagore of his literary companion Kadambari Devi and a wonderful 2003 portrait by Akbar Padamsee in shades of auburn and red-orange that recall the portraits and colour palette of his earlier decades. The Landscape section features a wide range of artworks that represent the ‘typical’ realistic natural landscape, those that are abstract in style and content, as well as those that seem not directly related, such as Gogi Saroj Pal’s ‘human landscape’ of faces.
A host of works feature from the mature periods of premier modernists; and the exhibition also showcases works that are landmarks in the development of an artist’s individual style. These feature neo-tantra artists such as Sohan Qadri with a work in his unique language of abstraction using oil paint, wood dust and chalk, Biren De with an early figurative work before his move to tantra and G. R. Santosh who participates with a mature tantra work of a meditating Devi. Manu Parekh and Shanti Dave participate with works in their distinctive artistic styles and techniques, Gieve Patel and Vivan Sundaram feature with large works on contemporary urban life, and Dharmanarayan Dasgupta and Sunil Das are showcased with works representative of their well-known, individual oeuvres: a work featuring the Calcutta bibis and babus, and a vivid charcoal sketch of a rampaging bull, respectively.
Featured in Manifestations for the first time are artists P. S. Chander Sheker, with an expressionist work on the layers of darkness with the human psyche, and Shiavax Chavda, with an oil sketch of a sarangi player, musician Gulam Sabir Khan. These, with a host of other modern Indian masters such as Avinash Chandra, P. T. Reddy, K. Laxma Goud, Laxman Pai, J. Sultan Ali and Surendran Nair make up the substantial line-up of artists, besides the well-known masters from Bengal—Benode Behari Mukherjee, Indra Dugar, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Ganesh Haloi, Ganesh Pyne and Prokash Karmakar, making this edition of Manifestations an exciting and historically significant art exhibition.