Artworks by India’s great modernists, as well as by contemporary painters and sculptors are on view at an ongoing show in Delhi. The exhibition acquaints viewers with Indian modernism and its most promising cultural heirs, writes Sneha Gohri.
Caravan, an exhibition put together by Delhi’s Art Magnum studio, features a mix of works by modern masters as well as contemporary Indian artists.
According to Saurabh Singhvi, the curator of the exhibition and director of Art Magnum, “The idea behind including paintings by such masters as M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza and Jamini Roy was to make people turn up at our exhibition.”
Alongside these iconic pieces are artworks by some of India’s most promising contemporary artists. The aim of the exhibition is to showcase emerging talent and establish a thematic bond between the younger and older generations of artists. Artworks by Souza, Husain, Roy, Jogen Chowdhury, K.G. Subramanyan, Ram Kumar, S.H. Raza, Arup Das, Mukhtar Ahmed Sardar, Snehlata Prasad, Mohan Naik and Sanjib Gogoi have been displayed here.
In the contemporary camp are artists of varied stylistic leanings and temperaments. Sanjib Gogoi is one of them. He has dabbled in both figurative and abstract art. He has been experimenting with different forms and trying to devise an aesthetic of his own since 2004. Towards the beginning of his career, he explored a more figurative style, to cater to an existing commercial demand in this area. But a little later he developed a liking for abstract art, which helped him discover his unique style as an artist.
Gogoi believes in fusing figurative elements and abstract themes in his art. “Non-figurative thought can be found in figurative art through abstract thought processes,” he told us. He further believes that “art should be created to give voice to one’s inner feelings and not for any material purpose”.
About Gogoi, art curator Praveen Upadhyay, who attended the show in Delhi, said, “I’ve followed Sanjib Gogoi’s works since the very beginning of his career and he has improved remarkably, especially from his 2004 abstract works to his recent collection.”
Rural idyll is the preferred theme of the Goa-based artist Mohan Naik, who is also part of the show. He draws inspiration from his immediate surroundings and has been influenced by various strains in the history of art. “Living in an isolated village in south Goa, I am amid nature all the time, and the life that surrounds me inspires me to paint. In the beginning, I was influenced by Indian miniatures and the Old Masters. Today I have created my own Identity,” he said.
One can clearly see the influence of miniature art in the elongated and simplified figures in Naik’s canvases. But this is only one of the many aspects of his style. “I have my unique style, which is the result of constant experimentation. It is about composing simplified forms and motifs, along with appropriate colour schemes,” he said.
Naik also has a predilection for the warmer hues of golden yellows and oranges—the colours of Goa. The Goa that the artist depicts is not the place we know from tourist brochures; his Goa is simple and rustic, the Goa of village folk. “Basically I’m from a farmer’s family. I depict my childhood memories and what I see around me in day-to-day life,” Naik said.
The exhibition is tribute to the established names in Indian art and also a platform for younger artists who are carrying forward the legacy of the old masters. “We wish to highlight the amazing works of contemporary young artists who do not just do what they do for media attention. Their works have such depth and speak for themselves,” said Saurabh Singhvi, the curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition succeeds in taking viewers through a multi-generational journey of Indian art. We are reminded of the golden days and, through the selection of contemporary works, we are reassured that the future of Indian art is in good hands.
Caravan is on display till 13 October 2019 at Art Magnum Gallery, New Delhi