If art had a voice, then perhaps Tyeb Mehta’s art would be looked up as boisterous, not just for its vibrant colours, but for the macabre images often appearing from his consternated memories over a canvas. Being one of the India’s distinguished painters, sculptors and film makers his works have sold for jaw-dropping price tags making him one of the priciest artists of India.
Born in Kapadvanj, Gujarat in 1925, he had one of the humblest upbringings. He later moved to Mumbai and continued his education. Being born in colonial times and witnessing ordeals of partition, he encountered death and agony at an impressionable age. Unsurprisingly, his artworks often resonate the feelings and pains of human heart, be it his own or others who were the victim of those times. Being passionate about art, he studied fine arts in Sir J. J School of Art, Mumbai and became a part of Bombay Progressive Artists Group seeking influence from European masters. His abstract and expressionistic works with cubist forms were more often inspired by Francis Bacon’s work. Yet, he kept his Indianness in his later works captured from Hindu mythology akin to his contemporaries.
He lived in London for a few years working and imbibing inspiration from European artforms. He was awarded Rockefeller Scholarship which allowed him to visit US in 1968. His works reflect the blend of Indian and western modernism with the zing of central figures standing out to make a statement. His pictorial language on canvas bubbling with western panache took a leap into Indian revelation in 70s and 80s. In mid 1980s Tyeb was an artist-in-residence at Vishwa Bharati University, Shantiniketan, where his works were influenced by Bengali culture and vigor. His Shantiniketan triptych series – Rickshaw puller, Charakpuja by santhal tribe, trussed bull, reverberated the dual realization of ‘we are things yet nothing’. His diagonal distribution of canvas that created a sense of movement between characters was discovered accidently in 1969. His choice of plane colours and diagonal division of the canvas soon became his signature style making his diagonal series his true bravura.
His works featuring Indian woman protagonist like Kali, Durga & Mahishasura were an instant hit. These imageries were infused with strength and hope that levitates against the demon within us. His works like Durga that were painted in the times of communal and religious riots send across of message of ‘unity is strength’ through the choice of tricolours symbolizing hope and secularism. Some of these signature works sold for millions of dollars soaring the value of his other works. Despite all the ovation and fame his works received, the artist chose to be reclusive. His love for painting was so fanatical that his moments of bliss was his time spent with his works, says the artist.
His experimental film ‘Koodal’ received Filmfare Critics Award in 1970. His works have been showcased across the length and breadth of earth. He is a recipient of prestigious Kalidas Samman and Padma Bhushan among others. He breathed his last on July 2009. Yet his legacy and inspiration to the world is inimitable.
Sai Ratna Manjari
Ganesh Pyne’s canvas often resonates the uncomfortable yet inevitable side of living beings, ‘Death’. Being a contemporary artist of Bengal school, his very Indian yet dark artworks revolve around the legends and lore of Bengal. Having been born and brought up in Kolkata’s decaying buildings and listening to stories narrated by his grandmother about Bengali folklores and reading through Bengali Children’s magazines, his imagination received wings that was hard to contain. However, it was Kolkata riots during pre-independence time in 1946 that left a lasting impression on his 9 years old brain, when he encountered countless dead bodies piled one over the other. This incident moulded his artistic fancy destine towards shady imagery and eerie fantasy.
Born in 1937, Pyne joined Government college of Arts and Craft in 1959 after finishing school and was particularly drawn towards the skeletal remains of humans and animals. This eventually became the subject of his canvas with death being the epicentre of his paintings. In 1960s he started his career at Mandar Mullick’s studio by working as a book illustrator and sketching for animated movies. He also joined Society of Contemporary Artists. It was hard to make ends meet those days as he had little money to buy colours. Yet he kept drawing with pen and ink. His first painting was titled ‘Winter morning’ picturing him and his brother going to school together. Although, he was a calm and composed man outside, his art was rebellious, venting his anger and dismay in the form of skull, cadavers, creepy faces in the backdrop of dark and blue shades. He even depicted less noticed mythological characters like Amba, Ekalavya and others whose life was reflective of miseries and curse. His art is a visual tour to the horrors perceived and experienced by him and his characters. Pyne started with watercolour but eventually moved to gouache and later to tempera as his medium.
However, Pyne did not always make shady paintings, some of his early works in watercolours drew inspiration from Abhinandranath, Hals Rembrandt and Paul Klee’s work. Nevertheless, it was his unique work of shady art that brought him fame. He often drew inspiration from traditional Indian puppetry, drama and movies. All his works resonate death either in its hues or figures. Frayed buildings cry out loud its uncanny past, a solitary fisherman is seen trapped in his own fishing net, while a distant trader sees his own shadow as death. Be it flickering lights or beheaded hero or predator approaching a prey; all speak one truth, that death is inevitable. Despite producing successful works in 1970s, he stayed away from the public eye for a while due to the envy & bitterness among his peers and commercialism in art industry. He was a man who often kept himself away from limelight and chose to exhibit his work in limit. As an artist he preferred to paint but not commercialize it. It was only after his marriage that he realized the importance of life & love and broke his bubble to come out and express. In fact, his first solo exhibition was held in his 50s.
As a painter and draughtsman, he exhibited his works in several solo and group shows across nation and the world. His work was received well and was often appreciated for his style. He was bestowed with many awards for his work including the Raja Ravi Varma award from Kerala Government and Life time achievement award by Indian Chamber of Commerce. Ganesh Pyne’s life has been an inspiration to many which is why many books have been published discussing his works and life. A movie by Buddhadeb Dasgupta on Ganesh Pyne’s life ‘A Painter of Eloquent Silence: Ganesh Pyne’ received National award for Best Arts movie in 1998. He was a critically acclaimed artist, who was described as ‘a poet of melancholia’ by art critic Ranjit Hoskote, while the celebrated artist M F Hussain described him as ‘India’s best artist’. Though a man of few words, his brush was verbose with reality of life seeping through it for the world to look at. He breathed his last in 2013, but he left his thoughts on the canvas for the world to see and savour for eternity.
It is not every day that you see a simple canvas reflecting ordinary beings, transform into contours of sheer grandeur and divinity under the tip of a brush. Artist JayasriBurman’sbrush stroke over the years has metamorphosed into works that project ordinary men and women with heroic characters raised to the level of Gods and Goddesses often surrounded by hybrid creatures. Simple characters like a mother nurturing a child or a girl trying to find her identity, are often bestowed with wings to fly or fins to swim in Jayasri’s work, redefining their freedom, desire, and strength. Perhaps, she sees in ordinary people an extraordinary ability to evolve and flourish.
Born in the city of Joy, Kolkata, her early life was soaked in festivities, colors, and spirituality. It is no surprise that her artwork celebrates the feminism and womanhood likened to the female mythical characters of Indian legends often worshipped in the form of Goddess Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Every so often, she picks a central character, usually a woman and weaves a story around her with crossed creatures flying, floating or just standing around, transcending the possibilities in Life science. Her art speaks the language of her imagination with subtle surprises, sometimes by the presence of a swan, mermaid, pigeon, parrot etc. Her desire to be free and nomadic as these birds or animals makes her canvas and sculpture invariably fabled and enchanting. As a child, she was always inclined towards writing and poetry, but she also knew that she was destined to be an artist as she was often inspired by her famous uncle and artist Sakti Burman, a contemporary Indian artist living in France. The enigma in her work is a powerful souvenir of her metier and personage.
But her art was not always this mystic as today, one can find a distinct transformation in her work of art from late 20th to early 21st century. Having completed her education from Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan and Visual College of Art, Kolkata, she went to learn printmaking in Paris under the guidance of Monsieur Ceizerzi. Initially, she started painting an impressionist style with pen and ink, but later she used various media and techniques including etching, printmaking, and sculpting. Many of her early works captured the many parts of India and its people, which were reminiscent of her new-found vocation for travel back to 1990s. Being a budding artist, she was trying to create her identity through her innocent, yet delightful paintings, which earned her a lot of appreciation. Her earlier canvasses echoed her simplicity as an artist, but as her art transformed under her brush, so did her persona as an individual. As her ability to create flawless paintings evolved, her canvases became more intricate and bold, each image reverberating feminism and strength through larger than life characters.
According to the artist, her love for travel gives her inspiration to paint and her prayers give her strength to keep doing her work with honesty. However, like a child seeking refuge in her mother’s anchal, she found solace in painting what she believed in and not what the world demanded. she always comes back to the epics and fables she has grown up with. Her art mirrors her inner self, nostalgia, touched antiquities, perceptions, and aspirations. Despite facing several personal tragedies, she believes in smiling and spreading the smile. Her motto is to disseminate love, peace, and harmony through her paintings and bring people closer to nature. According to her, we are so accustomed to living in this ‘concrete jungle’ that we have forgotten the real beauty of nature and therefore the many natural elements in her canvases remind us of our roots.
She is conferred with many awards including the National Award by Govt. of India in 1985 for her graphics. In 1987 her works were featured in International Triennale in Germany, during the same year she received a certificate of merit from All India Youth Art Exhibition. She has exhibited her work extensively, solo and joint across the length and breadth of India and the globe. Despite being an artist with immense accomplishments, she never stops her desire to learn and create ebullient images with her unique brushstrokes or lifelike sculptures with her tools. Being an indefatigable creator of bold and beautiful fairy-tale art and being a female protagonist in the male dominant profession, Jayasri sets an example and continues to inspire a generation of artists to come.
Haku Shah’s canvas provides a cognizance into the Indian tribal heritage. His paintings are aperture between tribal art & craft and the rest of the world. Having spent his boyhood close to tribal belt in a Gujarati village, he developed a deep sense of connection with these indigenous groups of India, that stayed with him forever. However, his work in Gandhi Ashram in his early days of career reflects its influence in his artworks often projecting sanctity and peace in being Swadeshi, reasoning his belief in staying minimalistic. Nevertheless, his pieces of art also often speak volumes about Hindu mythical characters under the backdrop of humble and rustic setup, such as Lord Krishna playing his flute, while cows encircle him. Every piece of his work is an adage to humanity, harmony and belief.
Born in a village called Valod, Surat, India in 1934 his tender mind naturally inclined towards different forms of art including music and poetry. He pursued his bachelors and masters degree in fine arts from the popular M S University, Baroda under the tutelage of legendary artists/teacher K G Subramanian and N S Bendre. He says when he first entered the Baroda school three things inspired him and shaped him into what he is today – village, tribal world and Philosophy of Gandhi. These encounters had inked his passion for folk and tribal art & craft in his mind, that awaited its outburst in the form of paintings and documentaries later. His experience with tribal lifestyle has taught him that they are wealthy in true sense as music and art is etched in their genes. They celebrate life with colours, delicacies, melodies and moves as though inferring that happiness is a state of mind and has nothing to do with money. He worked briefly in National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, post which he was awarded Nehru fellowship which collectively encouraged him to stay dedicated to tribal art.
Artist Haku Shah has extensively presented his works across the planet, that introduced the simplicity and vibrancy of lesser known pockets of India to the world. He has worked tirelessly towards the improvement of tribal society by bringing their work into the limelight through workshops and exhibitions. He worked with Weaver’s Service Centre that associated directly with weavers across India. He was invited by renowned art historian Dr. Stella Kramrisch to curate seminal exhibition Unknown India that travelled to the USA. He jointly designed and curated an exhibition on clay – Maati Ye Tere Roop in Crafts Museum, Delhi and set up crafts village called Shilpgram in Udaipur. Apart from these, artist Haku Shah has made several solo and group exhibitions too. His latest exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi’s life and narrative called Nitya Gandhi : Living Re-living Gandhi, rekindled the memories of Bapu and sent across the message of peace, equality and unity to young and old alike. He is a curator of Museum for Tribal Cultures at Gujarat Vidyapeeth. Aside from restoring tribal art in India, he has associated with several international museums like the Mingi International Museum of World Folk Art in San Diego, California; Museum of Mankind, London and the Tropical Museum, Amsterdam. He has penned many books for children. He has published extensively on Indian art & crafts and have composed couple of films on the subject. He has taught at School of Architecture, Ahmedabad for many years and served as Regent Professor at the University California, Davis. He is a Chairman and founder trustee of Bhooma Lok Shilpa Sansthan, Gujarat.
Artist Haku Shah is a man-on-mission, with a career spanning more than half a century and a contribution so rich and significant to the world of art. He is been bestowed with several prestigious awards including a Padma Shri by President of India. His inclination towards collecting art and documenting them extensively, alongside encouraging the art and the artisan makes him a sincere artist, anthropologist and an art historian. As a teacher he often instructed his students to avoid unnecessary waste by using extravagant colours, something that Gandhi himself edified the society. He believes that Indian artists in today’s time should stay decked to their roots and pick inspiration from their rich culture and tradition instead of seeing the west. His message to youth is to have unfailing rigour to learn by observing and imbibing. He currently lives and works in Ahmedabad. Shah has dedicated his life in the upliftment of lesser privileged yet talented societies, which makes him a real Gandhian. As the renowned artist Amit Ambalal puts it “There you can see the Gandhi in him, in the concern for the lowest person”, he truly has re-lived Gandhi.
Syed Haider Raza, a name that found its fame across the continents for his pure pageantry of stupendous artworks. He is perhaps one of those very uncommon early artists who ignited India’s fame on an international platform through his sheer flair for brushstroke, yet his art knows no boundaries. His work scales from European expressionism to geometric abstraction with an eventual focus on Indian element ‘Bindu’ or dot, the source of energy.
As a young lad, Raza was entranced by the magnificence of forest in his birthplace Babaria, Madhya Pradesh where his father was a forest ranger. Although he took to art as a child, he held the images of these picturesque flora and fauna in his mind to capture it later in his canvases; something that is evident in his early canvases as a professional artist. After his high school at Damoh, Madhya Pradesh, he moved to Nagpur to pursue his education in Nagpur School of Art followed by a masters in Sir J J School of Art, Bombay. It is here that he pioneered the Bombay Progressive artists group along with other members including M.F Hussain, F. N Souza etc. in 1947. The group was influenced by western modernism yet bringing out ‘Antar Gyan’ or inner vision of Indian art to the world. He soon moved to France through a French Government Scholarship to study at École Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His exposure to European art inspired him to experiment with French expressionism and eventually abstraction. He later became a visiting lecturer in University of Berkeley, California and he found inspiration in American landscapes.
Although, Raza made France his home and married a French artist Janine Mongillat, his heart was locked in his home country. He wanted to feel the waves of river Narmada, smell the petrichor of his village, listen to the chirps of sparrows in his portico. By 1970s the successful artist started questioning his inner drive and often went on a pilgrimage to India. His travels to Banaras, Gujarat, Rajasthan and many more cleared the clouds in his mind and made him find a new dimension to his purpose. His canvases spoke louder than ever with vibrant colours and shapes, ‘Bindu’ became his centre of subject and remained so until his last painting. He recalls how ‘Bindu’ was meant to happen in his art, as back in his school days he was often asked to concentrate on a dot or ‘Bindu’ to improve his attention in class by his teacher. He even started highlighting concepts of space and time, energies of female and male called ‘Prakriti – Purusha’ and various spiritual concepts in his paintings. His art took a significant leap to geometric abstraction which was well received by his onlookers. In 2010 he decided to return to India, never to go back again after his beloved wife’s sad demise.
Being one of the most eminent artists of India with a huge international recognition, he presented his work across the globe including solo exhibitions in New York, Royal Academy of Arts at London, Biennales of Venice, Lalit Kala akademi, India and many more. He was bestowed with countless awards including India’s prestigious Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan and the respectable French Legion of Honour. His art often sold for big bucks, so much so that one of his art sold for more than 18 crores at Christie’s auction. Yet he never cared for the price tags, but for the art and the artists. He created Raza foundation to help budding artists grow through fellowships and awards every year. For Raza art kept gushing through his veins, even in his 90s he never stopped painting. He painted to live and lived to paint because that’s what his passion and his faith was in. On July 23rd 2016, Raza breathed his last and was buried next to his father’s grave in Mandala. He left a legacy that would keep inspiring youth to work hard and keep dreaming. His narrative of rustic village boy making India famous at international scale and yet helping Indians like him have a big vision through his foundation is something that would last for ages. He was a life long student, he believed in learning and implementing it without succumbing to situations be it age, loss or location. The magnitude of his achievements could have easily made him retire early, yet he painted and he painted till he breathed his last. Raza’s life is a strong message to youth that ‘the only wall between you and your dreams are you alone’.
Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up – Pablo Picasso
For Laxma Goud, staying an artist wasn’t too hard as he always carried his childhood and its imagery in his heart. Ask the master artist what inspires his artwork and he will take you down his memory lane when he was a child in a rustic setup and narrate the vivid evocations of his village in Telangana and its residents. Although, he is in his 70s, his enthusiasm for art is as fascinating as that of a 7-year-old.An impulsive artist who can work with many mediums and materials has a style that is unpredictableand eccentric. His art has abucolic flavour blended with organic hues and rustic expressions.
Born in Nizampur in 1940s, young Laxma Goud spent most of his time imbibing the rural spirit, be it watching folklores about Indian mythology enacted by ordinary villagers suddenly transforming into larger than life characters or rearing of animals his father owned or walking through green meadows bare foot or discerning the relaxed country dwellers chatting under the tree. Having noticed young Laxma Goud’s keen sense of observation and immense curiosity to learn art, his father encouraged him to pursue what he adored, instead of pushing him to excel in his formal studies. After his schooling in Nizampur, his father accompanied him to Government college of fine arts and architecture, Hyderabad to study diploma in drawing and painting, where he made his parents proud by topping the class. He eventually went ahead to study Printmaking in prestigious M S University, Baroda, it was here that he learnt the art of playing with myriad mediums and styles. His mentor K G Subramanyan inspired him to make indigenous work by flipping through his environmentand encouraged him to work with different mediums. He learnt to use oils, acrylic, water colours, pen, colour pencils, etching,gouache, glass painting or terracotta, bronze, clay for making sculptures, all so effortlessly. After concluding his studies, he surprised everybody by going back to his homeland, he stayed close to his village and drew inspiration from the never-ending stimulus that encapsulated him. However, to make the ends meet he worked as a graphic designer in Doordarshan Kendra, until his art got recognized. He later got invited for setting up a post-graduate Fine arts college, which is now called Sarojini Naidu school of Performing Arts, Fine Arts & Communication, where he retired as a Dean.
Laxma’s art has an inimitable sense of passion attached to his village, every inch of his canvas exudes rich heritage, penchants, flaws and fondness of his people and place. He is known for his libidinal and surreal work of art, often reflecting the casual and organic mindsets of rural air. However, his lascivious images took some time for acceptance by the urban art-lovers says the artist.According to the artist beauty is not in the physicality, but in the inner sanctum of a person which is why many of his artworkshighlight sunburnt women working tirelessly to make a living. Most of his images reflectstrong women as his subject playing a role of a workhand, lover, goddess, mother or even nature often seen with a partner or vegetation or with domestic animals emphasising the earthiness of this rustic milieu.His early artworks were monochromic in nature drawn using pen or by etching, however with time his art evolved into colourful expressions. His art is poetic which can flow in anyway or in any direction like a breath of fresh air. Being an amazing sculptor, he has created many creative pieces of art, bejewelled women or tribal men are often seen coming to life through his craftmanship. However, his biggest sculpture by far is ‘Torana’ or a welcome archmade using ceramic clay which adores a studio in Jaipur, here he used several textures, colours and gestures to bring out the domestic warmthof Indian culture.
Being an artist of international acclaim whose career spans five decades and counting, he has travelled the length and breadth of the globe to exhibit his work. He has a permanent gallery in Peabody Museum in Boston, USA. During his expedition he had an opportunity to behold the art and crafts of several nations and was awestruck by the immense resemblance of craftmanship between various countries including his own land India, which lulled him to believe that art has no boundary or distinct language.This rejuvenated the artist in him to create more works like ever.He believes that an artist must continue to be an artist and toil towards producing original workswhether it sells for big bucks or not.He isbeingbestowed with plethora of awards both at home and abroad along with the prestigious Padma shri awardfor his contribution towards art.“For any artist, awards don’t mean anything. People work hard to achieve something in their respective fields, but in the end, what remains is the love of the people who admire my work” says the humble artist. It would be right to say that Laxma is an artist of the world and his life is indeed a message to all,that an unfailing desire to excel with a never-ending passion to work can take one afar.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art
and science.- Albert Einstein
Seated in the petite yet well-ordered studio on the fifth floor of L. V. Prasad eye hospital is this celebrated yet poised artist Surya Prakash, who adroitly converges art with science. His paintings echoing the tranquillity of nature through a window like projection across the hospital and bringing a fresh desire to relive lost days for those perceiving vision anew. The coruscating contours in his paintings is charted in almost six decades of his work and is unlike any abstract realism experienced before.
The veteran artist’s core subject has always been infinite nature, but none of his compositions is the reflection of any existing reality, instead every inch of his canvas brings forth sublime surprises. The prolific lush grass, the rapture of moonlit sky, the grandeur of mighty mountains, the opulence of dazzling sunlight, the stillness of drenched forest after rain and the rejuvenating streams of water, all point towards artist’s connection with abstract expressionism. The renowned European impressionists Van Gogh, Pissarro and Monet’s works and their lives were his inspiration in his formative days, says the graceful artist Surya Prakash.
Born in 1940 in the Cherukumalli family of Madhira, the then princely state of Hyderabad, young Surya Prakash was awestruck by the serenity of landscape that encircled him. He spent most of his playtime discerning everything that nature had to show off, which kindled his dormant artist waiting to spurt out one day. Although, he held his first brush during his school days, it was during his college days in the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad, that he mastered the art of creating abstract pictorial pleasures through his pointillist brushstrokes. With a diploma and an advanced diploma in painting, he soon landed a government job in the Department of Information and Public Relations, Andhra Pradesh as a staff artist. However, his powerful longing to be an independent artist and his love forart made himquit his comfortable job. Soon with a financial grant from Andhra Pradesh Lalit Kala Akademi, he moved to Delhi to pursue training from the legendary artist Ram Kumar for six months in Delhi.
Back in Hyderabad, the then emerging artist Surya Prakash equipped with his priced camera, spent a significant chunk of his time capturing the unheeded metal bodies of automobiles, discarded in an eerie junkyard. With a creative precision, he articulated the images of auto junk into an aesthetic and meaningful artwork, which led to the creation of his inimitable art series ‘Jargon of the Junk’; perhaps symbolizing the sordid lot of the society. Through this series, he astonished the onlookers with his choice of colours and its style of application to the canvas, which is extremelypensive and captivating.
His subsequent series ‘Flight’, portraying dead and abandoned dried leaves trying to glide high above a barren land, attracted a huge appreciation. These leafy forms were as lifeless and desolated as the overlooked automobile junk, yet they were once alive and were close to nature, somewhere signifying the limitation of life and the redundantvanity held by the living. With his characteristic diction, he created the very famous series ‘Pool of life’, illustrating the verdant vegetation of lost landscapes in the modern world, with the fusion of exceptional colours, meticulously layered one over the other. His other works like the series on Venice, was inspired by the heavenly streets of water and his boat rides in this‘floating city’. With a brush and a knife, he created this whole series into a pictorial realism for those who missed to experience or wish to recall the quietude of this divine city.
His paintings are a visual treat to the beholders with exotic colours and textures, which are regarded across the globe with boundless admiration. He is the recipient of myriad awards including the National award from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. He has tirelessly led many art workshops and curated numerous art works for several organisations. He is also the brain behind the striking makeover of the walls and campus of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. Despite all the achievements, he is a man with immense humility, with a childlike desire to learn and experiment with his work. He says whatever he is today is because of his art and that he constantly challenges himself to produce a good work of art on a day-to-day basis. He never slipsanopportunity to interact with young artists and art lovers. His advice to evolving artists is to have a vision and believe in themselves.
Perhaps the only quicksilver artist of modern India, whowas never afraid of experimenting with any medium, material or style, K G Subramanyan’s inspiring existence has remoulded many lives for good. He was not an artist confined to his studio, rather he interacted with his students and tapped their unexplored potential to be an artist with unique style. Heoften presented his views on various political, economic and social issues without inhibition, which can be deciphered in many of his artworks. He was a man who donned many hats as an artist, poet, writer, textile designer and mentor, yet he never failed to play anyrole with precision. Being born in an era of Gandhi, his art echoes the struggles of common men and women both in pre-and post-independent India. Many of his early works serve as a historic imagery for the generation whorelishfreedom inindependent India today.
Unlike several celebrated artists, choosing art as a profession was not always K G Subramanyan’s calling. Although, he had a great interest in drawing as a boy, it was only confined to his artbooks as a diversion. Back in his boyhood days, being an artist wasn’t really a lucrative professional choice either. He was a regular Tamil Brahmin boy born in Palakkad, Kerala in 1924 and was imbibing culture in the form of music, temple visits, traditional houses around, folklore, family and much more. He later moved to Mahe, Kerala which was a French colony and there he was influenced by French culture. He oftenkept himself busy reading through the books on Tagore and other thinkers in local library,which introduced him to several art forms like Japanese woodcuts, African art etc. Unlike British India narrative, at Mahe he was able to get abreast with Francophone and Lusophone contemporaneity and philosophies. All this wealth of knowledge was making the young K G Subramanyan equipped for his ‘accidental’ career as an artist. In early 1940s he left to Madras to study Economics in Presidency College. During this time, he was already well versed with the writings of Gandhi, Marx and Tagore and often contemplated over the inclined interest of so called modern artists towards European art rather than existing Indian society. While this often disheartened him, he soon understood the complex connection between the art and its maker and the significance of every art form in our cosmopolitan society after reading a book by the renowned art historian Ananda Coomaraswamy.
Being a Gandhian, he served a six-months imprisonment in Allipuram Camp prison, Bellary for being a part ofa demonstration outside his college, preceding Quit India movement. This led him being banned from resuming his education in Madras for three years. Mystically, it was during this time that his artwork caught attention of one of the pioneers of Modern Indian Art, Nandalal Bose in Shantiniketan who invited young K G Subramanyan to appear for an interview.Soon, hestarted studying various art techniques in Kala Bhavanunder the tutelage of legendary artists RamkinkerBaij, Nandalal Bose and Benode Bihari Mukherjee. He was exposed to water colours and calligraphy here. The environment in Shantiniketan allowed him free speech and creative thinking which helater applied to his mentoring years in M S University, Baroda. He also received a British Council Fellowship to study Printmaking in Slade School of Art, London under the guidance of famous English artist Ben Nicholson. In 1958 when he became the deputy director of Handloom Board in Mumbai, he shattered the tiered glass wall between the artists and craftsmen by using the traditional techniques of crafts in his modernist artworks. Heeven tried his hands-on toy making, pottery and weaving. This helped re-establish the honour of Indian craftsmen and bring innovation in the field of crafts as well.
An artist like K G Subramanyan is born once in many generations and his work is the epitome of Indian art and history. As an artist he was intrepid with an unfailing desire to innovate and think out of the box. Give him a rock and he could turn it into a life-like sculpture. He knew how to breathe life into the medium and material he used, be it acrylic, crayon, pencil, ball point pen, marker, water colours, oils, plastic, terracotta, lithography, etching, textiles or even reverse painting on glass and acrylic; he used them all, effortlessly. His 9 feet X 36 feet black and white mural with 16 panels, titled ‘war of relics’ is a monumental art work in terms of its sheer magnitude and creativity. The artist explains his landmark work, “To some truth is single; to some others many. And they all devise special signs and symbols, rituals and relics to demonstrate its basic unity. But with the passage of time, these fail to fulfil this function. They become opaque and private. Instead of leading the human being to a vision of the total truth underlying even the differences they do the opposite, distancing person from person and bringing in silly confrontations. These bring to life the beastly features in human behaviour; baring one’s tools of assault, filling one’s eyes with suspicion, one’s mind with hate and distrust. So, the relics and other devices that were meant to inspire and unite, divide and cause dissension.”The evolution of his artwork has been very itinerant which provides the same buoyancy as fifty years ago. A lot of his artwork symbolises Hindu Gods and Goddesses like Durga and Hanuman as ordinary beings, giving them heroic yet a common man’s stature in the eyes of a beholder. A monkey sitting on the tree gaping at the violence on the street or a woman dragging a bull, it all draws athin line between the hero and the ordinary, somewhere indicating that attitude makes everything exotic or dull. He was a storyteller artist as his art always narrated a story, he had also penned several wonderful fables for children. Being an art historian, he had written extensively on the history of Indian art and its evolution. He was bestowed with Padma Vibhushan by Indian Government for his contribution towards Indian art.
As a modest teacher he believed he had nothing much to teach his students except to clear some clouds. But for many of his students who are now illustrious artists of the world like Laxma Goud, Jagdish Chintala, Thota Vaikuntam etc., acknowledge that their success is indebted to the path shown by their devoted mentor ‘Mani da’. His message to the budding artists is to see things with pleasure and discern everything, but he also cautions the younger generation to know their potential and aim accordingly, as too much failure at an endeavour can destroy the self-esteem. Being an influencer and a role model, he often believed and preached that” whether you write or paint… what is the use of all this exchange if it does not make the world a little better than what it is.” He left a legacy that will keep enlightening and inspiring the generations to come. Just like his book title “King and the little man’, he was invincible in terms of his talent as an artisan like a ruler, yet he was unostentatious and was a people’s person, an ordinary being in character.
Ever since internet has taken over our society, a lot has changed in the artworld. Artists are now able to present their work to a larger crowd without having to worry about marketing. Online art galleries are helping sell substantial number of artworks for both renowned and emerging artists alike. That doesn’t mean that the bricks-and-mortar gallery systems have gone extinct. In fact,many of the popularart galleries are taking to online platforms to promulgate their pre-exhibit catalogues, upcoming events and more.
Traditionally, most Indian artists even the celebrated ones had to travel abroad to exhibit their works to the international audience. Although, it brought them a significant recognition, it often took away their creative selves from working in their studios, aside from other administrative issues. Nevertheless, with more visibilityonline, many Indian artists can now sell their works to international buyers without having totraveloverseas. A handful of online Indian art galleries housed with qualified curators, bloggers, marketing managers are helping the artists gain more virtual prominence, whereas some of the tech savvy artists are maintaining their own websites. The bottom line is, even in India the conventional mode of selling art is slowly been taken over by virtual advertising which is creating a huge impact in the ease of selling and buying the creative works by a click of a key.
Passionate collectors and buyers on the other hand are able to buy more paintings and sculptures than before, without having to travel much. For example, if a collector in India yearns to buy a workexhibited in New York, he may have to fork money out on travel and other logistics before getting to see the actual work of art. But an online art gallery can save collector a great deal of valuable time and a few bucks. As a matter of fact, many first-time art buyers are owning art works for either investment or passion through art galleries online. It is no surprise to see that art buyers these days are coming from all walks of life with some being in the age group of 20s. However, the serious art collectors are relying on both traditional and online art galleries. Many collectors who prefer to buy a big-ticket artwork or wish to see the work for real before owning it, often visit online galleries for comparing the price tag or choosing from the several available options before making a deal with the physical art galleries.
On the other hand, conventionallyan artist could hardly know his buyer while sealing a deal on an artwork, since most of it was taken care by the art galleries. Nonetheless, through sale of art online, an artist can directly make a transaction with the buyer or collector or others, while the buyer could be assured of the authenticity of the work he is about to possess, since it comes from the artist himself. This creates a win-win situation for both.
In a span of few years several online art galleries have been established in India, each with different business models. Some sell artworks of emerging artists, while some trade works of recognised artists. Some offer the artworks as gifting ideas and home décor, while some vend it to earnest art collectors. The point is, selling or buying art online has got as easy as shopping on eBay, but choosing a right store to make a deal is a real great deal.The web is thronged with umpteen number ofsites that may sell fakes. When there is demand,naturally there is a scope of mock-ups and transaction of fake works in the art industry is no bolt from the blue. Choosing the right kind of artwork both in terms of aesthetics and authenticity can turn into a real nightmare.Therefore, before deciding to be a proud owner of an artwork, be sure to do your homework.Check for reviews, blogs, newsfeeds, available deals, press releases, frequency of store updates among others, before trusting a site where you desire to trade an artwork. Indiearts is one of the pioneers in transacting online art sales serving as an exclusive one shop stop for all kinds of art related deals. Housed with experienced curators it has been positively bridging gap between collectors and artists. Indiearts has assisted countless number of buyers in choosing the right work of art, making a deal with the artists and delivering the piece with certificate of authentication. Indiearts also assists artists in designing their websites, apps or getting membership in the Indiearts store, for enabling virtual advertising,marketing and salesof their artworks. So, if you are still reading this article, then perhaps you are associated with the art world either as an artist or collector or dealer and we can customize exactly what you desire.
When art starts enunciating about our society, people and their demeanour as a three-dimensional life size effigy, bathed in psychedelic hues, then be sure that you are perceiving the contemporary works of Jagadish Chintala. Every single Chintala’s creation carries an expression of ordinary life packed in extra-ordinary creativity.His most famous tubular art whether projecting the rapport of the roommates, the bonding of traditional Indian neighbours, the commitment of the businessmen, the passion between the couple on a vacation or a chilled-out saadhu in shades; reflects everyday life seeping with incredible ingenuity in scintillating colours with a jaw-dropping awe. If there is one word that could describe the artist’s creation, it probably would be ‘carnival’ as each sculpture radiates a multitude of happy hues and fills a sombre heart with joy. As the eminent Spanish artist Pablo Picasso puts it ‘the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls’, which artist Jagdish Chintala’s work does effortlessly.
If you ever find the artist’s famous maskon the walls of an art lover outside India, do not be surprised, as Chintala’s work is world renowned and has countlesspatrons, sometimes even before it isfinished. He is one of those rare artists who has put India on the map of ‘one of the best destinations for contemporary art’with sheer magnitude of his artistic flair. Born in a middleclass family in Hyderabad in 1956, he lived a life of a regular suburban boy with giant dreams. Nevertheless, his unswerving fascination for art at an early age,made it a naturally chosen path. He took up a Diploma in Painting from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad, where his confidence pumped up when he topped his class. This transformed him into a ‘go-getter’ who later decided to study art in the prestigious Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S University, Baroda. Although, initially he had to fight with the Dean and the veteran artist, K. G.Subramanyan to win a seat in post-Graduate Diploma in Mural Design course,he recalls how the man ignited the creative spark in him when he was about to quit later.
Chintala’s inspiration for his popular papier-machesculptures originated from his work in Doordarshan in his early days of career. Back then he created multiple low-cost animal puppets for a Children’s show to be used by the kids. These puppets were not only lightweight, but also vivacious in its appearance, which led to its massive success. He then started perfecting his art work using papier mache as medium, while hiscontemporaries were using a metal medium.In his opinion, papier mache is a medium with endless possibilities, but a tricky one to work with. His initial works of art echoed the vibrancy of his roots, Telangana and its culture, but as he started traveling the length and breadth of the globe, his work started reflecting the cross-cultural attire, expressions, sophistication and much more. As his art evolved, so did his medium and he switched to aluminium, where editions are easier comparedto papier mache according to the artist.
It is not everyday when you see an artist raise to fame in a short span of time through pure talent. His sold-out show in Garhi Studio, Delhi brought him a huge recognition along with an opportunity to study in UK through a British Envoy in Mumbai. Soon, he was offered a three-months British Council and Charles Wallace India Trust Travel Grant for study and research in the UK with Henry Moore, a renowned English artist. During his stay in UK he interacted with many international artists and observed different facets of the society which is often resonated in his artwork. He is based in Hyderabad, India, but travels every four months to Michigan, USA to work in his studio for his overseas patrons. He works almost twelve hours a day and passionately callsboth his studios his lab.As an artisthe has transcended the mundane art form on flat canvas and createdquirkythree-dimensionalpaper collages, masks and tubular sculptures, each with its own unorthodox identity and a sublime narrative.
While most of his artworks is held in private collections by collectors across the world, some of his work can be relishedby thepublic in Madras Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. In a career that spans more than three decades, he has been bestowed with many accolades including the Pollock – Krasener Foundation Award. His piece of advice to emerging artists is to create original, unique and distinctive works of art. His life is a living example for those who doubt the powers of imagination. He has not only created a new dimension in the world of art through his inventive pieces of work, but has also softly nudged the dreamers through his panache that thinking out of the box and executing the idea well can createremarkablebreakthroughs.
If you ever come across a painting of rustic,dusky women draped in vibrant sarees, donningantique ornaments and wearing coin sized bright red vermillion doton the backdrop ofyellow turmeric smearedovertheir foreheads; then chances are you are looking at the work of Thota Vaikuntam. A self-made man born in a humble family, effortlessly portrays the lives of men and women living in a placid village of Telangana on a canvas. A casual run through his paintingsclearly indicates that women are often thesubjects of his artwork. Be it the women in traditional attire adoring a man playing flute or playing flute herself or a mother nurturing her child, his art speaks volumes about these demure yet strongwomen and much more.Nevertheless, his personal favourite is his painting depicting gurukul and its dutifulscholars discussing the world says the artist.
Growing up in a small village of Telangana called Burugupalli of Karimnagar district, he often drew inspiration from the lives and culture of his people. As a child he frequently sketched mythological characters after watching theatrical performances in his village enacted by men dressed in vibrant outfits. His biggest motivation although was his saree clad traditional mother and her kitchen says the modest artist. His art is very Indian with bright colours and vivid features which certainly peps up the mood. He believes in using primary colours and says composite colours are unnaturaland non-existent in everyday lives.The frequent presence of parakeetin his paintings reflects love and beauty in his people.
Despite getting an admission in Hyderabad’s College of Fine Arts and Architecture, he kept searching for his muse. Initially, he was confused about his career choice, but with time and effort he understood that he was meant for art. Although, he was just afirst-year student, he often went out with senior students listening to their discussions on contemporary art styles across the world and their future. Yet, he kept pondering over most artist’sinclination towardswestern art form over Indian art. While pursuing his diploma in painting and print-making from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda he chanced to get tutored by an eminent artist K. G. Subramanyan, whom he lovingly called ‘Mani da’. As a teacher he guided young Thota Vaikuntam to follow his inner calling and create his own style which no one can teach him but himself. This was when he decided to stick to his roots and paint what he feelsabout his village. That’s when he created magic with his brush stroke and the rest is history.
His early years of art-making mostly had him use charcoal, but with time he experimented with pencil drawing, partial coloration, transparent washes and later started usingacrylic and oil on canvas. His colourful paintingsbroughthim a significant recognition for itsvivacious hues. Although, his paintings have evolved over the years in size and medium, the mood of his artwork has never changed despite all the modernisation of the society including his own village. Being born in the time when televisions and computers were seldom seen in homes, he recalls how people made real conversations with each other and enjoyed the stage shows presented by brightly dressed artists. These performers inspired him to be an artist. He says he is grateful to be born in his village and that it is his Guru.However, being an artist wasn’t easy says the man himself, with a family to support and hardly any income, he had his share of ordeals in initial years, but his passion for art kept him going and be what he is today.
With a career that spans 40 years, artist Thota Vaikuntam has exhibited his work in several countries and has had more than 35 solo gallery shows and over 50 group gallery shows. He is being bestowed withnumerous accolades includinga National award, Hyderabad Arts Society award and a Bharat Bhavan Biennale Award for his work as an artist. Besides painting he had a brief stint in film-making as an art-director for multiple Telugu movies, among which a film called Daasiearned him a National award for best art direction.
Regardless ofall the achievements he isa self-effacing man with an amicable personality. His advice to young artists is to stay close to their cultural ethos and create eloquentartwork which defines them. His narrative is an inspiration to budding artists and everyone alike, that hard work always pays and staying close to roots can never let a person down.
Investing successfully in art has always been a bit of a quagmire: opaque, inscrutable, unpredictable, ruled by passionate collectors and secretive insiders, a dangerous game for amateurs. And collectors and connoisseurs have long purchased art out of passion, but that may be changing, a new survey found.
Seventy-six percent of collectors are buying art for collecting purposes, but with an investment view, up from 53 percent in 2012, according to a recent survey by Deloitte Luxembourg and ArtTactic. In addition, 81 percent of art professionals say clients are buying art for collecting purposes but with the investment tilt, up from 77 percent in 2012.
The Art & Finance Report 2014 surveyed 35 private banks, 14 family offices, 90 art collectors and 122 art professionals on their views of art and finance.
“We see significant opportunities for innovation and change, from the growth of art as a capital asset, to new sources of market liquidity, to growing demand for art banking,” said Roger Dassen, global managing director, clients, services and talent, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, in a statement. “The world of art and finance will continue to converge for many years to come.”
The survey found that art is becoming increasingly important in wealth management, with 76 percent of art professionals and 62 percent of art professionals saying art and collectibles should be integrated into the wealth management offering./p>
But wealth managers are not quite as convinced, with 53 percent indicating there is a role for art in wealth management.
For one thing, performance has been poor. The Mei Moses World All Art Index posted negative performance from 2012 to 2013, but it returned 7 percent over the last 10 years, slightly below the S&P 500 total return of 7.4 percent.
Still, the report says there will be an increasing focus on art as wealth managers evolve their services for ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Art is one more way advisors can compete for those types of clients. Specifically, the report says wealth managers will focus on art and estate planning, art and philanthropy and art secured lending.
Why are you/your clients buying art?
Image Source From-Deloitte Luxembourg & Art Tacticart & Finace Report 2014
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NEW YORK: Paintings by one of India’s most important modern artists went under the hammer in New York on Wednesday, selling for more than expected at over $3.7 million, auction houses said.
Three untitled oils on canvas by pioneering Indian abstract artist Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde, who in 1964 based himself in New York, were by Christie’s and Bonhams.
The Bonhams canvases, signed and dated 1961 and 1963, came from the artist’s “non-objective” series, and fetched $1.08 million and $1.68 million respectively, Bonhams told AFP.
Both sold for significantly more than their pre-auction upper estimates, and in the case of the 1961 canvas more than double.
The auction house did not identify the buyers further than describing them as international.
Christie’s sold a 1971 “Untitled” in moss green for $965,000, which it said showcases the “painter, philosopher and alchemist at the zenith of his career.”
The auction house said it was bought by an Asian private buyer.
Experts say Gaitonde, who has been compared to Mark Rothko at his best, is poised to join the international modern art canon, in the robust, emerging market in modern Indian art.
The Guggenheim in New York on October 24 opens the first museum exhibition dedicated to the famously reclusive artist, and Gaitonde work has recently set records in the Asian art world.
In 2012 Christie’s set a world record for a modern Indian painting by selling a canvas for $3.79 million. In March, Sotheby’s sold another Gaitonde for $2.5 million.
Born in Nagpur in 1924, Gaitonde was inspired early on by Swiss artist Paul Klee, then turned towards abstraction and cultivated a lifelong interest in Zen Buddhism.
He studied in Bombay and in 1964 lived at New York’s Chelsea Hotel, then a cultural hub that housed Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller and Leonard Cohen.
The last decade has seen an astonishing explosion in the global market for Asian art, fueled by new wealth in the region, particularly in China.
(CNN) — When Christie’s launches the latest auction at its New York showroom this evening, gavels will fall. Prices, however, will almost certainly rise … and rise.
For its Post-war Masters and Contemporary Evening Sale, one of this year’s headline art auctions, Christie’s has on offer masterpieces including Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (712), and Mark Rothko’s Untitled during a night expected to fetch well north of $200 million.
Christie’s estimates that the Richter work will command a price of between $22 and $28 million, the Rothko between $40 and $60 million, and the Bacon triptych around $80 million.
The house has reason to be upbeat with its estimates.
On May 12, during an auction titled “If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday,” buyers from 26 countries splashed out on contemporary works by artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons and Richard Prince.
Christie’s sold $134.6 million of art in an hour.
Speaking to journalists after the show, Christie’s Chief Executive Officer Steven Murphy suggested that buyers from emerging markets are helping keep the market vibrant.
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London: The value of the online fine art market is expected to grow more than double to $3.76 billion in the next five years as it increasingly attracts younger and first-time buyers, said Hiscox British insurer on Monday.
‘Online art sites do not threaten galleries and auction houses in the same way Internet availability has undermined the traditional movie, book and music businesses’, added Hiscox. But the willingness of younger buyers to make their first purchases over the Internet along with the rapid growth of online sites pointed to the future of the sector, it said in a statement.
“Young collectors are looking for art work which can be easy to buy and available at a wide range of prices,” stated Robert Read, Hiscox’s head of fine art.”Online art platforms cater for all tastes and budgets, but are particularly effective for those just starting to collect – opening up the art market in a way that is hard to replicate in the real world.” London-listed Hiscox, which underwrites cover for oil rigs, kidnappings, fine art and vintage cars, estimated the value of global online art sales at $1.57 billion in 2013.
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New research explores online art buying trends – what people are buying, how much they are spending and the barriers to purchase – and reveals growing confidence in buying art ‘sight unseen’
A future generation of art buyers is likely to make their first art purchase online, with almost 25% of 20 – 30 year olds surveyed saying they first bought art online without seeing the physical piece.
Although 39% of respondents said they find buying art online less intimidating than via a physical gallery or auction, having a bricks-and-mortar presence drives confidence – with 90% of online buyers purchasing from a physical space before buying online.
Limited edition prints are a popular entry point for online art buyers –55% of those surveyed had purchased a print directly via an online platform in the last 12 months.
44% of buyers said they had spent more than £10,000 purchasing art and collectibles online so far, with 21% of this group saying they had spent in excess of £50,000.
Not seeing the physical object remains the biggest hurdle – 82% of those surveyed said the most difficult aspect of buying art online was not being able to physically inspect it.