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'Criss-Crossings' by S. H Raza and Manish Pushkale

'Criss-Crossings' show at The Guild Art Gallery celebrates the coming together of two generations of artists - Manish Pushkale, a 2002-3 awardee, who at 30 is developing a vision of his own with S. H. Raza, 83, who is arriving at simplicity after almost six decades of work.

Their artistic practices share inspiration from homegrown philosophies and indigenous artistic sources. Art Historian Roobina Karode notes in an accompanying essay: "This exhibition shows no strains of generational conflict as it celebrates the coming together of two generations of artists. Raza's paintings dazzle with rich, saturated colors, Manish's canvases glow with soft, muted tones. The pictorial surface of Raza is animated by the tactility of paint while Manish works towards smooth, serene, reflective surfaces. Both Raza and Manish relinquish traces of individual ego and autobiographical narratives in seeking a higher revelation."

If the translation of spiritual evocation into painterly sensibilities has been of utmost importance for Raza, Manish Pushkale has been working on the concept of saamayik (japa or chanting). He works in oil on canvas with a minimum intervention of the brush.

His entire process is worked out by the use of a cut-piece of fabric that acts as a sponge and absorbs the excess pigment and extra shine to impress the texture on to the surface, all by the process of taking away. Without any formal training or initiation into art, Manish Pushkale has taken to it by observing others attaining self-hood, identity and significance through art.

As the introductory note states: "The artist strives for freedom within set restrictions. For instance, color and line both are muted and toned down in his work. He wants to transcend the fixity and finiteness of space within the borders of his canvas. He desires the continuity and expansiveness of the experiential space- hence the creation of mirages, shadows and shafts of light that trick the eye and the sense of touch, only to bring into focus, the illusory nature of things."

His paintings are in the collection of S. H. Raza Foundation, Times of India, and in many private and corporate office collections in India and internationally.

On the other hand, Raza, one of the founders of the Progressive Artist's Group, along with K.H. Ara and F.N. Souza, has gained national and international recognition for his attempts to revitalize Indian philosophical thought in art. He was awarded the Prix de la Critique, in Paris, in 1956. He has been represented in the International Biennales at Venice, Sao Paulo and Menton and in the Triennale at New Delhi. He was conferred the Padma Shree Award by the President of India, in 1981and was elected Fellow of Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in 1983. He has also been awarded the Kalidas Samman, from the Madhya Pradesh Government.

Raza calls his work a result of two parallel enquiries aimed at a 'pure plastic order' and 'the theme of nature' respectively. Both converge into a single point and become inseparable - the Bindu. In the late 70s, he focused on pure geometrical forms; his images were improvisations on an essential theme: that of the mapping out of a metaphorical space in the mind. To quote Raza, "As far as my work is concerned, I am coming to crystallization of a potent symbolism in its simplicity and elasticity. The process is continual and through elimination, my means are getting more and more economical and I am looking at my destination without the superfluous and the unnecessary."

The veteran artist is enthusiastic about sharing the platform with a new generation, " I am very keen to walk with the younger generation, share their creative energies and space...and it is sheer delight to look at their works; the vitality is incredible." Raza believes that younger emergent talents from India are making significant contributions, placing Indian painting on the world map, even while (they are) rooted in their history and consciousness.

He makes a special mention of artists like Seema Ghurraya, Smriti Dikshit, Sujata Bajaj and Manish Pushkale. Manish Pushkale is also a recipient of the prestigious S H Raza Foundation Award. The foundation was set up in New Delhi to scout young artistic talent, recognize and encourage their pursuits by initiating a dialogue, exchange ideas and share forums.

Watch 'Criss-Crossings' of recent works by S. H Raza and Manish Pushkale at Guild Gallery, Mumbai from February 13 to February 28, 2004.

View S. H. Raza's catalogue

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