Art News & Views


This second set of essays on the Progressive Artists Group of Bombay (PAG) opens with an article dealing with the art and cultural milieu of 1940s and 1950s in Mumbai identifying individual patrons and critical supporters at the juncture when the group was formed which had ushered in unabashed modernism in pictorial language. There are supplementary articles on some of the principal PAG artists, such as Souza, Husain and Raza, whose creative careers were covered in the previous issue of artetc. news & views. An attempt is made to cover the impact of the PAG commotion through some individual artists such as the Delhi based painter, Krishen Khanna, who was a close friend of Husain and other PAG members, who in his writings indicated his leanings committing himself to follow the PAG ethos in his creative endevours. Ram Kumar, also Delhi based, shared their ethos too as both figurative and abstract painter. The Bombay based Akbar Padamsee and Tyeb Mehta, had consistently close relations with Raza and Husain, evolved what some art critics call the PAG inspired variation of European Expressionism (or Modern Indian Expressionism). Bal Chhabda (also Mumbai based) represents a consistent friend of the PAG and other associated artists, supporting them monetarily and also by providing a permanent art gallery outlet, thereby keeping up the PAG spirit from 1950s onwards. Chhabda also quietly emerged as an abstract painter.

There are two essays on K.K. Hebber and V.S. Gaitonde, who were contemporaries of PAG and who along with other artists formed what is called simply the ‘Bombay Group’ in the early 1950s. They charted a different course and represent parallel developments in western India, one reconciling use of indigenous elements with modernity, the other artist taking the great leap towards a sort of transcendental abstraction. While in north India, Manishi Dey represents a parallel trend as an attempt to close the gap between the revivalist language initiated in Bengal and the new language of modernism. The essay on Group 1890 formed in 1963 draws attention to the response of the next generation Indian artists to the PAG phenomenon, in some ways considering themselves as the successor and also at the same time forcing a rethinking on the course Indian Modernism should follow. Founded under the leadership of J. Swaminathan, it included a number of artists from Delhi and Baroda, such as Jeram Patel, Jyoti Bhatt and Gulammohammad Sheikh. The quest for modernity and the involved polemics since then remains on the move spilling into the 21st century. A wide range of senior and junior art historians and art critics have enriched this issue of artetc. news & views, viz., Vrushali Dhage, Srimati Lal, Vinod Bhardwaj, K. Bikram Singh, Manish Pushkale, Nuzhat Kazmi, Seema Bawa, Manisha Patil, Uma Prakash, Snehal Tambulwadikar, H. Anil Kumar, Nanak Ganguly, Satyasri Ukil and Sandhya Bordwekar.

Ratan Parimoo

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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.