Photos & text: Vijay Kowshik, Curator

These artworks, borrowed from the collection of the late Sushmita Roy Tandan, a private collector, are part of the exhibition Evolving Identities-Masters of Bengal.

The Santiniketan movement was shaped by the practices of the masters, chiefly by Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Benodebehari Mukherjee, Ramkinkar Baij and Rabindranath Tagore. These I would call the Masters of Bengal. There was an interrelationship among them with regard to their attitude but they did not converge it stylistically. They were linked by their concerns and contributed to the discourse, each in a different manner. They were quite aware of this and were still a cohesive group. Though individualistic in their work they portrayed similar concerns. They were the co-authors of an art movement being woven around shared issued, complementing each other and enhancing their concerns.

Before this movement the art schools at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras taught students techniques in crafts and copying British and western artists. They also followed the influence of Indian spiritual ideas in the west. An example of this being Raja Ravi Varma and what was being done at the British art schools in India. E. B. Havell (Principal Calcutta Art School) attempted to reform the teaching methods by looking at Indian miniatures and Ajanta Ellora for inspiration instead of mechanically copying western artists. Abanindranath Tagore was his supporter and was later principal there. He attempted to develop links with the Japanese artists with intentions to establish a pan Asian linkage in art.

This exhibition is on view at Art Gallery, Kamaladevi Complex, India International Centre till 30 December