The Rise of Contemporary Art in India
Art in India, in all its forms, has always had a very important place in the lives of its people. Through the ages it has definitely seen and been through a myriad range of changes while still preserving its "Indian quality" to some extent. Right from the artworks found during the excavations at Indus Valley and Mohenjodaro to classical painters like Ravi Varma and then to modern painters like M.F Husain and S.H Raza, Indian art like all others has gone through evolution. Most people today are familiar with ancient Indian art which mainly includes mythological paintings, sculptures and exquisite carvings in temples and the like. In other ...view middle of the document...
Another similar group called Group 43' represented by artists like Keyt, Darahiyagala, Beling and Pieris was established around the same time. Both these groups produced influential work but did not stand the test of time. They certainly were however precedents to powerful modern art in India.
This movement towards modernism and contemporary Indian art had very little female participation. The only woman artist from this period who's work is still talked about today is Amrita Sher-Gil. (Her mother was Hungarian and her father was from Punjab, India) After her schooling in Europe she returned to India to explore her roots during which she produced impressive work. Apart from her, no other eminent female artists were a part of this movement.
Modern art in India has a been a widely debated topic. Artists are posed with the very relevant and challenging problem of how to combine modernistic impulses with traditional Indian flavor to create a unique aesthetic, for the Indian characteristic cannot be fully ignored nor blatantly incorporated. Some of artists have apt solutions for this while some others still grapple with it.
Indian cinema is another important facet of Indian life that has both helped usher modernism in while itself changing to reflect these changes in the art world.
Progressive Artists' Group:
The Progressive Artists' Group, founded with a manifesto written by F.N. Souza, single-handedly ushered in a new art movement in India. This group was comprised of F.N Souza, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, K.H. Ara, S.K. Bakre and H.A. Gade and they were based in post-colonial Bombay. The group was formed on the eve of Indian Independence and had links with the Communist Part of India (CPI) ( They were closely related with the CPI and initially shared many of their beliefs. The name "progressive" comes as a result of this influence. After a while however, the group withdrew their alliance and even revised their manifesto which earlier reflected many of the communist beliefs.)
Each artist in the group had a unique style. They considered themselves artist citizens and wished to represent the voice of the common Indian man through their work. A few years after the founding of the group, the members scattered and relocated to different parts of the world. The group however remained the icon of contemporary art in India and they made post-colonial Bombay the nucleus of this movement.
Their frank and blatant expression of reality took 20th century India by storm. Their artwork was met with a lot of criticism and was not widely accepted by the public. The group had exhibitions over the world - in Paris, Munich, London and New York. This international exposure put these artists at par with the artists all over the world.
Francis Newton Souza:
This man, F.N Souza lead the Progressive group. He wrote the manifesto for the group in 1948. Souza's work is mainly centered around the human figure....