Convergence and Confluence – Contemporary Art from India
Coffee & Tea Reception at 4:00pm
Discussion at 4:30pm
Close at 5:30pm
Any civilization that has developed without losing individual identity, but continuously draws upon its cultural heritage is often considered one step ahead of the rest. Existence of a link, however feeble, between the art of the past with that executed down the line, of any Nation is therefore proof enough of its heritage that is still alive and kicking. This link, in the Indian context, is worth investigating as it not only is so strong that it is difficult to overlook, but at the same time, often is able to dictate its future outcome. This ever-present art activity in the Indian sub-soil may be viewed as convergence and confluence of its cultural ideas and achievements, past and present. Works by 9 contemporary artists* from India will be featured in September in Hong Kong at a group exhibition entitled “Kala-Sutra”. In this afternoon discussion, curator Arun Ghose will be in conversation with featured artists Jogen Chowdhury, Neeraj Goswami, Lalu Prasad Shaw, and Thota Vaikuntam to look at the characteristics of both convergence and confluence of the various forces that worked incessantly since time immemorial in Indian art and had played an active role in development of art in India today.
Jogen Chowdhury (b.1939) was born in Bangladesh, his art is informed by his experiences as a refugee during the difficult and troubled days of the Partition of Bengal, and has risen since to the top echelon of art in India today. The artist’s inimitable style portraying human figures convey commentary on immorality, political anarchy and the perceived pervasive dishonesty in public life.
Neeraj Goswami’s (b.1964) painterly journey starts deep inside his mind, during his daily meditation, in which images emerge in his purified soul. His palette, and simplified renderings of meditative humans, together portray a unique tradition in Indian art in which spirituality predominates. Tradition and modernity of painterly style co-exists in his art that carefully conceals his complex method of applying paint and drawing lines, leaving only a surface of infinite bliss.
Lalu Prasad Shaw (b. 1937) is known in the Indian art scene for his calibrated eloquence and narratives. Faithful to the traditions of Indian art and drawing from the nation’s colonial past, his painted characters are deeply rooted in history – indicating an era where Indian art was commandeered by colonial ideologies and principles.
Thota Vaikuntam (b.1942) hails from Andhra Pradesh, in South India. His works interrogate gender roles and are inspired by the male artists who impersonate female characters in rural travelling theatre groups. Vaikuntam draws from the depictions of sensuality and vibrancy from performing folk art traditions. Vaikuntam’s art beholds a power that emanates from the paint or charcoal that he applies to the surface, from his controlled lines, and from the fine strokes he executes. He has elevated art of his generation to newer heights.
Arun Ghose has served as art-critic of literary magazines in Bengal and has introduced more than a hundred exhibitions besides authoring several books on life and art of veteran artists like Somenath Hore, Paritosh Sen and Sakti Burman and recently, on Neeraj Goswami. For the last ten years, he has been coordinating a post-graduate diploma course on 'Appreciation of Indian Art' at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture at Kolkata and has delivered lectures in numerous national seminars on art, museology and conservation. He has served in museums of repute for nearly thirty years before opting for being an independent art expert. He has, as a curator of the Government of India’s program ‘Festival of India’, organized important exhibitions of contemporary Indian art abroad. Husian’s last two major shows, entitled ‘88 Oils On His 88th Birthday’ and ‘The Lost Empire’ had him closely working with the ageing artist both in India and London. He lives in Kolkata and works not being limited to this city alone.
*Maqbool Fida Husain, Ram Kumar, Satish Gujral, Jogen Chowdhury, Thota Vaikuntam, K. Laxma Goud, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Neeraj Goswami, and Manoj Dutta.